If there are any idle hands left in city employ following the culmination of this year’s Budget War, they won’t rest easy for much longer.

Board President David Chiu and the rest of the Land Use Committee (yes, Land Use) heard on Monday that small business owners must navigate no less than 15 city agencies in order to complete their permitting processes, and that what one city agency will tell a business will often contradict the word of another.

Regina Dick-Endrizzi, acting director of the Office of Small Business, told the tale of one Western Addition business owner who had a gate on his property. The SFPD wanted the gate closed because of crime concerns, the SFFD wanted it open because of fire concerns. The merchant went back and forth between public safety agencies for weeks before a compromise (keep it open) was made, but it took the OSB’s involvment because different city agencies “just don’t communicate,” Dick-Endrizzi said.

But that’s not what got Chiu’s goat. The former small business commissioner took mega-umbrage to the oft-repeated notion that 15 different sets of paper-pushers could easily be replaced with one, especially when those “redundant” paper-pushers work for a city $500 million dollars in the red.

“Staffing could be consolidated,” Chiu said. “But we have to find out who does what [first].”
That report could come as early as the end of the month. As far as streamlining the laborious permitting process, and thereby helping SF become more business-friendly? Two, maybe three years, Dick-Endrizzi said.

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