Ariel Ford, the owner of Inner Sunset frozen yogurt shop Easy Breezy which began with a shop in Noe Valley and also has a location on 18th Street in the Castro took to Facebook recently to describe the fairly insane level of hassle and expense involved with the installation of one permanent bench outside her Irving Street shop. "It's brutal," she tells SFGate, describing how a simple request for an installed bench, bolted to the ground, requires a professionally done site plan "using a computer program," and $2 million in liability insurance. "It's just one bench!" she says.
The shop, as shown above, has non-permanent benches that have to be taken inside at night, and the Request for Planning Code Compliance and all the filings and requirements around making one bench permanent have led Ford to just give up on it all.
In addition to that request and the site plan, there is a Café Tables & Chairs permit application, a $125 application fee, requirement of photos of existing conditions, and a 10-day public notification that has to be posted once the plan is approved, as well as annual renewal fees and $2 million in insurance. See the full list of requirements and steps here.
"I have $1 million in insurance, which was recommended to me and which seems sufficient," she says, noting that the entire shop only cost $250,000 to build. She refuses to pay the extra premiums tied to a $2 million insurance policy, all for one bench, so she's scrapping the idea.
This story of course calls to mind the "Kafka-esque journey" C.W. Nevius chronicled back in 2010 in which a Tenderloin cafe owner was thwarted for many months in an effort to add non-permanent outdoor seating by one neighbor concerned about fire safety. That cafe ultimately got its seating, but sadly, that coffee shop is already history.