Friday, June 15, 2012

City government as extortion racket

This ice cream parlor had to pay $31,000 in city fees to open.
Photo by Scott James for Bay Citizen

The MTA's parking meters and parking lots are among the city's most lucrative enterprises, but other city departments are equally aggressive in extracting money from city residents and businesses.

The Planning Department hit a guy with $44,000 in fees when he tried to convert an old Mission district warehouse into a bowling alley.

A woman who had the temerity to open an ice cream parlor in Cole Valley was charged $11,000 just to turn on the water and $20,000 in additional fees by the city.

And David Marks was rash enough to open a shop on Valencia Street:

When he opened four years ago, he went to City Hall to get his business license and go over a checklist of what else was needed to operate. He never was told that he needed a police permit. Last year was the first time he heard about it when police officers stopped by asking to see it. "I had no idea what they were talking about," Marks said. He learned that it would cost him nearly $1,400, an expense he would be hard-pressed to afford. He contacted Wiener, which prompted the supervisor and his staff to take a closer look at all the police codes. Marks still hasn't paid the permit fee, and on Tuesday, police contacted him again, saying he could be charged with a misdemeanor if he doesn't comply.

A little surprising that city cops are part of the ongoing City Hall shakedown operation against small business, but cops and firemen aren't excessively scrupulous, since they are the primary scammers of city's pension system.

I gave Supervisor Scott Weiner the Worst Legislator of the Year award for his misguided attempt last year to dilute city voters' initiative rights and his fatuous response to the creeps who persist in walking around naked in the Castro. But Weiner is well on the way to redeeming himself by trying to eliminate the burdensome, obsolete laws like the one city cops are using to bully David Marks.