Thursday, February 9, 2012

Big Government at Work

Mark Steyn discovered this great example of Big Government at work.

A woman named Juliet Pries wanted to open an ice cream shop in San Francisco.

And then she ran into the city bureaucracy. The New YorkTimes reports what happened next:

Ms. Pries said it took two years to open the restaurant, due largely to the city’s morass of permits, procedures and approvals required to start a small business. While waiting for permission to operate, she still had to pay rent and other costs, going deeper into debt each passing month without knowing for sure if she would ever be allowed to open.

“It’s just a huge risk,” she said, noting that the financing came from family and friends, not a bank. “At several points you wonder if you should just walk away and take the loss.”

Ms. Pries said she had to endure months of runaround and pay a lawyer to determine whether her location (a former grocery, vacant for years) was eligible to become a restaurant. There were permit fees of $20,000; a demand that she create a detailed map of all existing area businesses (the city didn’t have one); and an $11,000 charge just to turn on the water.

Eventually Pries opened her shop. It’s a great success.

You might have guessed that this has provoked a certain amount of civic embarrassment in San Francisco. City agencies have promised to streamline the permit process for starting small businesses in the city.

The do admit, however, that cleaning up the morass of city government is going to be a lot more difficult than opening an ice cream shop.

If you have a few extra minutes you will delight in this Xtranormal dramatization of the process.


CatherineM said...

Of course, these same city planners supposedly support "mom and pop" business and despise the chain's a shake down. Too many similarities to the Sopranos.

Dennis said...

The more legalities involved the more like the legal system. One gets "Due Process," but that actually means the money due in the process as each group takes their cut. One can almost view a production line going through City Hall where each person's hand goes in your pocket to remove their "fair share." By the time one makes it out of City Hall one has all their pockets turned inside out.
One can be sure that a City Planner is not the only entity that will have their say on whether or not one can open a small business. The larger the city the more rules. Then there will be the State who wants it's cut and soon the federal government wants its piece of the action.
The glorious part is that it is all "legal." At least the Sopranos had a code of conduct that one could understand.