Irony alert: New York City creates special agency to help restaurants with bureaucracy

New York's solution to its unbelievably onerous bureacracy is, you guessed it, more bureaucracy. The New York Times reports on the “New Business Acceleration Team,” a “pilot program” that helps restaurateurs navigate the regulatory labyrinthe set out by the very government expected to help them. But the report reveals just how … micro-managey… New York gets when it comes to restaurants:

After making sure that the tap water was hot enough and the refrigerator light bulb was properly sheathed, Ms. Botros — who worked for a month on the project with the two women, occasionally calling them to make sure they had taken time to eat — hooked her laptop up to a portable printer and issued the temporary operating permit. Ms. Livingston gave her a hug.

Ah, yes, nothing like the warm, gentle embrace of a city inspector letting you know that you have finally completed the application process that requires you to “contend with as many as 11 city agencies, often with conflicting requirements; secure 30 permits, registrations, licenses and certificates; and pass 23 inspections.”

The lede is buried, though: The city has actually “hired a consultant to help overhaul the permitting process, and are considering creating a single restaurant license that would consolidate and replace all the others”! Glory be! Oh, but wait:

“We still need to make sure the grease trap is in the right place and that the street cafe doesn’t encroach on pedestrians,” Mr. Goldsmith said. “But it has to be our responsibility to bring those together at a single point of entry.”

Of course, the New York State Restaurant Association wants more reform — but they also want more government. Rather than stopping at a streamlined process for all restaurants (or all businesses!), Andrew Rigie, the group's director of operations, wants there to be a new “Office of Hospitality.”

“What I would like to see,” Mr. Rigie added, “is almost a Mayor’s Office of Hospitality,” like the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting. “You have a world-famous dining city — we’re sought after by people all over the world. This industry is definitely worthy of such an office.”

Isn't it amazing that all this political (and taxpayer) capital is being expended on creating new teams and offices to fix problems created by previous efforts to create new teams and offices? While officials note that “it could take about a year to design and start a new system” involving supermarkets, maybe they should spend that year figuring out which regulations and commissions to axe entirely?

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