SILVER LAKE - Los Angeles City Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell announced on Wednesday his ‘Open For Business’ reform initiative which aims to streamline the way entrepreneurs obtain permits, cut the bureaucratic red tape associated with opening a business, and reduce the upfront costs for mom-and-pop operations to open their doors.
“We need to change the culture of indifference at City Hall and enact policy that serves our small business community,” said Councilmember O’Farrell. “The City has a reputation of being hostile to neighborhood serving businesses, and I want this initiative to change that perception of City Hall.”
The Councilmember made the announcement during a news conference in Silver Lake, and was joined by members of local Chambers of Commerce as well as small business owners from across the 13th District. Several operators spoke about their experience owning a business in Los Angeles.
“This is something we all need,” said Jon Shook, co-owner of Trois Familia. “Every restaurant that I have ever opened has been a struggle, it takes forever just to get inspectors to sign off on a permit.”
“It took me sixteen months to open my restaurant,” said Tricia La Belle, owner of Bon Vivant in Atwater Village. “That held up my landlord, it held up jobs, it held up the community from improving, and a lot of people don’t make it that far. People have lost their livelihoods to this. It is time to make a change.”
In the City Council meeting held later in the morning , O’Farrell introduced the first in a series of motions that seek ways to make opening a business --and keeping them open-- easier in the City of Los Angeles. In the motions, O’Farrell directed staff to report on: amending permit fees to make them more equitable for small businesses; creating an expedited process for “good operators” to renew Conditional Use Permits; modifying existing code requirements that hinder certain types of businesses from opening; ensuring case management services are available to small businesses; and identifying specific employees within the Departments of City Planning and Water and Power to act as liaisons to Building and Safety and small business owners to help these small business owners open for business.
The motions will be heard in both Planning and Land Use Management and Energy and Environment Committees.
The Councilmember has held several meetings with the business community, including hosting a roundtable discussion with small business owners from around the District to discuss ways to improve the permitting process in the City. Many business owners say this is the biggest hurdle in opening their doors. Councilmember O’Farrell also conducted a survey of small business owners across the City to determine their needs and what will help them stay in business.