I suppose I should have seen it coming. Everyone that starts a business that includes alcohol eventually talks about a last minute hitch. It’s like the October surprise of boozy entrepreneurship. I’ve been very good about doing my research with this project. When you are struggling to do things on a shoestring, you can’t run in headlong. Risks have to be calculated. When it comes to the DPD, who needs to sign off on the change of the use of my space, the bureaucratic maze of codes and regulations and three letter acronyms has been head spinning. I can only wonder what the guys that put up skyscrapers and shopping malls go through.
The DPD has this nifty little website called the Project Portal, which seems to be their response to the one big problem that they have (outside all those codes ‘n stuff): you have to go downtown and wait in their office for 1-2 hours to do ANYTHING. Gotta talk to a land use coach for advice? No phone number … you gotta hoss on down and find parking in downtown, or bike in the rain, sign in at the desk with the frenetic, crazy lady, and wait like a tool until they call your name. This goes for permit specialists, engineers, all of them.
So I took the Project Portal on. In my 8 trips to the DPD, I picked up about 15 CAMs (client assistance memos), and figured out that the limited scope of my project would only need an MUP (master use permit), and the process would only take a grand total of about 2 weeks, start to finish. I was one of the lucky ones. I’ve been tweaking my architectural plans and getting things in line for months now. I figured I’m about a month out right now, and I thought I’d be conservative and get the ball rolling, so I dove into the Portal with my very own project number assigned to me in person by a permit specialist. The first number is 3. This will be important in a minute.
I get assigned a guy, and I get through the PAR (preliminary application report) and my PASV (preliminary application site visit) and tweak the plans a little. Next is a pre-screening, the intake appointment, more inspectors, and approvals. It turns out the damn portal won’t let me get a pre-screening, so I call my guy, and he alerts me, to my horror, that my 3 series number (a simple land use permit) will not do, that he’s assigned me a 6 series number (a construction permit). He then tells me that while the screening appointments for 3 series numbers are almost day of, 6 series numbers are 6 weeks out. WTFFFFFFFF!
Bottom line: according to today’s news, I’m at least 2 months from opening, and I could just pop the head off a kitten, I’m so mad. Tomorrow I’m gonna be finessing this situation as much as possible, and seeing if there’s something that can be done. More to come …