Friday was a bad day. An incredibly stressful situation that was solved by writing a check for $1325 to the fire department. Apparently the owner of the building where we're holding our event never finished the permitting process for their occupancy permit. Basically a permit with SFFD that says how many people can safely be in the space. For my $1325 I had the pleasure of having two fire marshalls come and watch us set up, then sit in their cars outside the venue for 4 hours. I struggle to understand how that made anyone safer. The one point the fire department did allow was a pass on our "candle permit". This is something new to me. Everyone who has candles in a restaurant apparently needs to get a candle permit. A payment for every new kind of candle they use....I won't go into it because its boring me even as Im writing it, but suffice to say that it is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of. Yes, we need to insure public safety, but the idea that we as a people need to be babied to the point where the fire department tells us which kinds of candles to use is beyond comprehension.
Every one of the permits, fees, and taxes that small businesses are charged is justified by some logic. The reality is that when you add them up its an incredible burden. Tens of thousands of dollars go toward these fees, and that's even before you start buying the things that actually make your business run. Everyone I know struggles with this. Constantly being surprised by new fees and permits, many of which appear seemingly out of thin air when the need for city revenue increases.
I ramble, but the thesis of this post is that there needs to be some kind of change. If we are to create a robust local economy, we need to stop taxing small business into the ground. As much as it pains me (I hate politics), I am going to start working with folks in The City to try to streamline some of these processes, and get rid of some of these fees. There are easy ways to insure the same level of public safety, without all the bureaucracy attached, and hopefully we're at a point now where enough people are behind us to make it happen. Wish me luck.