Transient Business

Katy Grimes: The hilarious story in today’s Sacramento Bee about the transient fellow who showed his entrepreneurial spirit over the weekend, brings up a more serious issue in the state.

Travis Lloyd Kevie was apparently squatting in an abandoned bar in the Placer County town of Penryn. After he bought a six-pack of beer at a store across the street from the abandoned bar, he had the bright idea to place the “OPEN” sign in the window. Before he knew it, Kevie had customers. When he ran out of beer, he walked across the street to the store and bought more, selling the beer as well as some hard alcohol to customers at a profit, but continuing to reinvest money back into his enterprise.

The problem was when Kevie posed for a news story photo in the Auburn Journal, and a local law enforcement officer recognized him.

Kevie was arrested for trespassing, breaking and entering, burglary, and selling liquor without a license, and is currently sitting in jail.

Which brings me to the question — How difficult is it to open a business in California, with only a bright idea?

Regulations, permits, and a great deal of money is required these days, keeping most people from even wanting to try.

Last year I researched what it would take to open a small manufacturing business in Sacramento County. I picked manufacturing because it’s the manufacturing companies and jobs that are swiftly disappearing from the state.

I found that 22 government agencies later, I would need many applications, permits, and fees with nearly all of them, as well as lengthy time periods between each, I might have been able to open my manufacturing plant. Might. Providing that I had another income source in the meantime.

Air quality regulations and permits, taxing agencies, land use and zoning permits, fire and police department permits for public safety, toxic substance control, storm water general permits, workers’ compensation, Department of Fair Employment and Housing, and even Immigration permits, are just a few of the applications and permits required to get a little business off the ground.

But it doesn’t stop there. There are annual inspections by the Fire Department and/or Fire Marshall, OSHA spot checks, safety and liability inspections by Insurance carriers, EPA and Cal-EPA toxic substances inspections, Air Quality Management departments for emissions tests. There are surprise spot checks for permits and licenses by the city, county and state, even if there are current permits and licenses in place.

Travis Lloyd Kevie may have actually been spared the regulatory nightmare that he would have faced trying to open and run a small business in California. The costs associated with the permits and applications are prohibitive for anyone trying to start up a business on a shoestring, that doesn’t involve running it out of the house.

Kevie kept his enterprise open all weekend, serving 30 customers each day. Maybe after he gets out of hoosegow, he will still feel entrepreneurial, but with a record, he won’t be able to get a license of any kind in the state.

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