Ice Cream Bar melts through red tape

A common refrain in politics goes something like this: “Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy.” According to the Small Business Administration, that’s true: Their figures show that small businesses account for roughly half of the jobs held in the United States.

But what if you can’t start a business in the first place? What if the regulations are so significant that you almost just give up?

Unfortunately, that was the experience of business owner Juliet Pries, the proprietor of a new Cole Valley ice cream shop called The Ice Cream Bar. She had to go through two years of bureaucratic red tape and hoop-jumping just to start doing business.

Her debt began to pile up. $20,000 for permits, $11,000 for hooking up to city water supply, attorney’s fees, rent on the property while it waited, and even a ridiculous demand that she draw a map of all area businesses left her borrowing from friends and family and wondering if she should call the whole thing off.

Apparently, The City is beginning to take notice. People like Supervisor Mark Farrell are pushing for a change.

“The City has a reputation of being a difficult place, and a hostile place, to do business. We’re changing the dialogue.”

And although he admits that it will take time to change the way San Francisco works with businesses, there are signs of hope. Calls are increasing from within the government itself for changes to be made, and an ordinance that would ease the business-creation process will be considered in a matter of weeks.

Let’s hope it actually makes the change business owners like Juliet Pries need, before they decide that opening an ice cream shop just isn’t worth that much pain.