Philadelphia Decoded

Accessible, User - Friendly Law for All People

§ 14-707 Outdoor Lighting.

(1) Intent.

The outdoor lighting standards of this section are intended to protect residential uses from excessive night time light and glare and to protect motorists from glare along public rights-of-way, to reduce consumption of electricity for lighting purposes, and to assure that exterior lights are shielded through the use of full cut-off fixtures so that they do not cast direct light beyond the property line next to residential areas and public rights-of-way.

(2) Applicability.

The outdoor lighting standards of this section apply to all exterior site and parking lot lighting installed on private lots after the effective date of this Zoning Code except:

(a) Lighting for accessory and non-accessory signs.

(b) Outdoor lighting for a single-family or two-family use.

(c) Outdoor lighting used exclusively for public recreational activities, sporting events at stadiums and ball fields, concerts, plays, or other outdoor events that are open to the public.

(d) Outdoor lighting used for emergency equipment and work conducted in the interest of law enforcement or for public health, safety, or welfare.

(e) Outdoor lighting used for a temporary event lasting less than 14 days.

(f) Seasonal outdoor lighting used less than 60 days per calendar year.

(g) Outdoor parking lot lighting in Special Purpose (SP) zoning districts.

(3) Certification.

Zoning permit applications must, if subject to the provisions of this § 14-707 (Outdoor Lighting), include a lighting plan prepared by a licensed architect or a licensed professional civil engineer that demonstrates compliance with the standards of this § 14-707 (Outdoor Lighting).

(4) General Standards.

(a) Prohibited Lighting.

(.1) Strobe lights that are visible from another property may only be installed by the Philadelphia Regional Port Authority or the Philadelphia Division of Aviation.

(.2) Rotating lights may not be installed in any location where they are visible from any public street.

(.3) Awnings used for building accents over windows or similar features shall not be internally illuminated (i.e., from underneath or behind the awning). However, internal illumination of awnings over doors is permitted for safety purposes.

(b) Shielding.

All light sources shall be shielded to prevent glare and spillover beyond the property line. All light sources shall be designed, located, and installed so that the light source is not visible from any Residential district.

(c) Efficiency.

All exterior lighting fixtures shall produce at least 80 lumens per watt of energy consumed, as documented by manufacturer’s specifications or the results of an independent testing laboratory.

(5) Parking Area Lighting.

(a) Light fixtures shall be located to provide a relatively uniform level of lighting and to avoid extreme contrasts between levels of lighting, except as necessary to prevent glare onto adjacent properties.

(b) Within any Residential district, the maximum permitted height of light poles or wall mounted lights is 20 ft.

(c) Within any Commercial or Special Purpose district, the maximum permitted height of light poles or wall mounted lights is 25 ft. within 50 ft. of any Residential district or any lot in residential use, and 35 ft. in all other areas.

(d) Within any Industrial district, the maximum permitted height of light poles or wall mounted lights is 25 ft. within 50 ft. of any Residential district or any lot in residential use, and 50 ft. in all other areas.

(6) Canopy Lighting.

(a) All canopy lighting shall use recessed luminaire fixtures and must be designed and located so as to prevent glare onto adjacent properties.

(b) As an alternative or supplement to recessed lighting, indirect lighting may be used where light is directed upward and then reflected down from the underside of the canopy. When this method is used, light fixtures must be shielded so that direct light is focused exclusively on the underside of the canopy and is not visible from any residential use adjacent to the subject property or from any public right-of-way.

(c) No light source in a canopy structure may extend downward further than the lowest edge of the canopy ceiling.

(d) Highly reflective material shall not be installed on the underside of the canopy.

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