This happened in Oakland, CA, one of the most Liberal dominated cities in America, perhaps the most dominated. It captures quite well how Liberalism is so damaging to entrepreneurship and job creation.
Tuesday is inspection day for building owner John Vicars.http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/johnson/article/Ice-cream-parlor-permit-hassles-chilling-4800063.php
He's got a commercial property on College Avenue, right in the heart of Oakland's busiest shopping district. His quest is simple: to see an ice cream parlor opened on the ground floor of the building.
But his journey has been a regulatory nightmare.
It's taken him nine months to prepare 1,700 square feet of retail space to the city's satisfaction - at least to where they were satisfied enough to actually come out to inspect it.
It all started in December, when Vicars forked over $3,500 for the right to apply for a conditional use permit that would allow him to change uses in the space occupied by the Great Harvest Bread Co. since the early 1990s.
He plans to lease the space to Smitten, a locally owned ice cream shop with a single store in San Francisco's Hayes Valley.
Oakland officials told Vicars the permit application process would take about three months. But when he submitted his plans to the city, the questions just kept on coming.
In the back of the building, Vicars planted shrubs, vines, plants and an irrigation system on a small patch of curb that sits between a sidewalk and a retaining wall.
That's when the zoning officer assigned to the project told Vicars he was concerned.
The plan for the rear of the building would require a detailed description of the "size and species name of the plants, shrubs and vines for species review," said the notice sent by the city.
And that wasn't the half of it.
Vicars was informed that the ice cream shop would also be prohibited from emptying bottles in the back of the business, you know, where the recycling dumpsters are kept. The reason? The sound of clinking bottles could disturb the neighbors.
That's a bit of a problem because state law requires businesses to recycle and if they can't do it in the back of the building where the recycling bins sit, it's either inside the store or out front on the sidewalk.
And the kicker? Before Smitten is welcomed to the neighborhood, the building owners must come up with a plan for valet parking between 5 and 8 p.m. on Saturday nights.
For an ice cream shop.
If this were a pot dispensary, I'm sure it would have been a less exhaustive process.
The entire episode makes you wonder exactly what Oakland's plan for economic growth is based on - or if it even has one.
Oakland has long held to a policy that it is better to grow small, locally owned businesses rather than go the corporate franchise route - and for years it did exactly that.
That's why bringing a Walmart or a Target store to Oakland took years and years to accomplish - never mind that both stores are now swamped with customers. The city is losing millions of dollars in potential sales tax revenues and licensing taxes - but those aren't the only potential losses.
In a city clamoring for employment opportunities, delaying or denying business openings for the most trivial reasons only exacerbates the problem.
The owners of Smitten plan to employ at least 30 people when it opens, Vicars said. "It's just bizarre. If you want to get a sense for why Oakland has such huge fiscal problems, there you go," he said.
For a city that wants more retail stores, more sale tax revenues and more jobs, this is a very strange way of going about it.
Surprisingly this story appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle. You would have thought they would never publish such a piece since it violates Liberal orthodoxy. Or maybe it was just their way of tweaking the nose of Oakland across the bay (as if SF were really any better).