Jason Yu wanted to open a green tea ice cream shop on 20th and Valencia in San Francisco. He spent over $200,000 to realize his project. But his passion and hard work were no match for San Francisco's incomprehensibly bloated bureaucracy, a thorny snarl of red tape that devours human dreams (unless you are very rich and well-connected, of course).
Yu submitted plans to the Department of Building Inspection in November 2019. Then the Planning Department required him to notify neighbors within 150 feet, allowing any one of them to object. And one of them did — a competing ice cream shop. That meant Yu had to hire a lawyer and brave a hearing at the Planning Commission.
The June 11 hearing featured 64 people — mostly friends of both ice cream shop owners — offering their opinions on the great ice cream face-off. Because apparently everybody in San Francisco has way too much time on their hands.
Yu won approval, but then got stuck in the city's never-ending web of securing permits. The Department of Building Inspection's online permit tracker shows Yu faced 15 hurdles to secure his permits including getting the sign-off from a host of departments. The last to weigh in was the Department of Public Health, which said in December its review was complete, but that Yu owed more money in permit fees before the department could give the OK.
The nice thing about being a bureaucrat is you never have to take the blame. It's always someone else's fault.