Two weeks ago, our architect came to us and basically said, "Hey, remember a year and a half ago when I told you this project was going to cost $X? Well, some things have come up and that might actually be $2X or $3X. Oops."
This would be bad -- like, "If that's truly the case, I'm firing 21 people and selling the restaurant tomorrow" bad.
The first problem is, it turns out that the spot where the door between DNA Lounge and DNA Pizza was going to go has a support beam running down the middle of it, holding up the second floor. That's something that would have been nice to know, like, a year and a half ago. So, if we move the door to the East, it opens into DNA Lounge's men's room. If we move it to the West, it's behind DNA Pizza's bar. Or, we could cut that beam and split it in two, supporting it on top of a big steel lintel inside the wall. For that to work, we'd need to pour a new concrete footing for it... which would be 13' long and 3' wide, which means, again, demolishing the DNA Pizza bar. Oh, also, maybe that's where the drain pipes are -- we don't know -- which could mean jackhammering up the entire floor to move those.
Without that door there, we cannot combine the two businesses. Without combining the two businesses, we can never get an entertainment permit for the second floor, because SOMA does not allow entertainment. (SOMA does not allow entertainment. Roll that around in your head for a while. We're an "existing, nonconforming" use, which means that while we can expand, a new entertainment business can never open in SOMA.)
So we really need that door. And it has to be a certain size based on capacity.
It's possible that we can work around this problem by using two doors instead of one, with the support beam standing between them. We have yet to get a straight answer on whether they'll accept that.
That's not even the worst problem, though.
The worst problem is, the Fire Department has decided that they would really prefer it if we replace the entire two-story North wall between DNA Pizza and the muffler shop. Because even though that wall has been there for literally one hundred years, now it's suddenly not good enough.
How this happened is, there was a meeting where our architect said, "Well as you see, we're a Type-XYZ building", and the Fire Department inspector said, "Hmm, let me think, my reading of this one weird little sentence in the code makes me ponder the possibility that you might actually be a Type-You're-FUCKED building instead."
- "No, I'm pretty sure we're Type-XYZ."
"Let me call over half a dozen of the other boys in the office. Yes, our consensus is that we all kind of prefer the interpretation that you're of Type-You're-FUCKED. So, you just go ahead and replace that wall with one that's a 2-hour-burn instead of a 1-hour-burn and then everything's hunky dory. Mmmmkay? Buh bye."
Replacing that wall would mean all kinds of horrible things including demolishing the restaurant's kitchen, since half of the equipment is on that wall, so add to the total the cost of the restaurant being closed for months. Oh, and even if we did do all this extra work, it would push the cost of the project above the limit where we can get an exemption for not having a handicapped-accessible second floor -- which means, you guessed it, we'd have to install an elevator! Who knows where, there's no room. And then $3X has become $4X.
So now our only hope is to write to the State Fire Marshall asking for his interpretation of this bit of the code and hoping that he interprets it differently.
Because if we can't get our permits without replacing that wall, we're done. We can never open the second floor, there will never be live entertainment up there, and I bought a restaurant for nothing. I'm out not only the money I've spent propping up this money-losing restaurant in order to get us into the building in the first place, but also all of the construction work we've done so far, and I've completely wasted two years of my life.
So that's why I keep using the term "Permit Apocalypse". This is some end-of-the-world bullshit.
As I think I've mentioned before: San Francisco would prefer that you not run a business here.
How many times does this city have to say this to me before I finally take the fucking hint and get out?
It's like that scene in The Man With Two Brains where Steve Martin is praying, and says, "If there's anything wrong with this, just give me a sign." Then lightning flashes, the painting spins, a voice moans NOOOOOO... And he pauses, and says, "Just any kind of sign."
"Negotiations are ongoing." Maybe we'll know something real in a week or two.
Meanwhile, work on the upstairs rolls along. All of the electrical has been done (except for the parts that go into objects that haven't been built yet) and the new floor should be done soon. It's a multi-layer sandwich somewhat similar to what we did in the main room. They started with the existing floor, a mess of wooden slats and patched plywood, and filled in all the holes and smoothed it out with bondo. Then they painted on this thick red paint that turns into a flexible waterproof membrane. It feels like latex. On top of that goes a thin layer of tongue-and-groove plywood, glued down to the red stuff; and then glued to that is a hardwood ply.
The silver stuff around the edges is a super-sticky waterproof tape. That gets covered with a small baseboard.
Downstairs we used normal plywood for the top surface, and it doesn't hold up very well. We have to patch and paint it way too often. The harder stuff is what we used for the surfaces of our gogo boxes, and those hold up much better, so hopefully we'll have to patch this floor less often. But the real reason for this fuss is to make it as waterproof as possible, since having spilled drinks dribble through to the kitchen would be a real drag.
Once the floor is done, which should be this week, they can start tiling the bathrooms. They have to do it in this order because the codes are picky about not having discontinuities in doorways. Then doors, and then toilets and sinks go in last.
And that will be it for Permit One. It's likely that by the time they run out of stuff to do, we'll either have Permit Two, or we'll have a confirmation of full-on Apocalypse.
Come to Mortified this Friday! It's always great, but ticket sales have been a bit slow this time around. So, it'll probably be easier to get a seat...
May I particularly direct your attention toward "Best Overall Party Venue", "Best Overall Dance Party", "Best Late-Night Restaurant", "Best Pizza", and "Best Bar Staff".
Phase One of the soundproofing of the windows on the second floor is complete. First we repaired the cracked panes in the existing windows with auto-glass-repair glue -- because $6 sounded better to me than $1,500 to replace them. Then, we had another layer of glass added on the inside. It's almost impossible to tell in this photo, because it's almost impossible to tell in real life! When I walked over to take a look I wondered when they were putting the new glass in, but they were already half done. It's totally invisible.
The new panes are made of two sheets of 1/4" laminated glass, in a sealed frame with a vacuum between them. "Laminated" means that it's several sheets of glass of varying thickness glued together. Apparently the discontinuity between the sheets helps break up sound more than a single sheet of the same thickness would. So, the sandwich so far is: old glass; air gap; new glass; vacuum; new glass. Phase Two, if it turns out to be necessary, will be to add another window on the inside at a slight angle, to break up sound reflection further. That will be the side that people bump their gear in to, so that layer will have to be easier to repair...
Hey, you all know I'm still doing those mixtapes, right? About an hour and a half of new music a couple times a month, in music video form. I just released #118. I don't usually bother announcing them here, but there's an RSS feed and so on.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we have our construction permit!
This is our architect, Jason. He is smiling because that giant roll of paper sticking out of his bag is our finalized construction permit.
On Monday, we got signed and stamped by the Fire Department, then that same day, our architect hoofed it back to Building for more signing and stamping, and then it went to another phase that nobody had mentioned before called "Quality Assurance". I was hoping that this was the part where they ask me to fill out a survey asking how well I felt I had been "serviced", but no, that's not a thing that happens. Apparently "Quality Assurance" is the phase where someone else puts a stamp on the form saying "I see that there are sufficient stamps on this form." Then today, Jason was finally able to run around with the stamps and meta-stamps and get a permit issued!
As to the looming apocalyptic requirements from last week: 1) They agreed that yes, we can have two doors with a pole between them instead of a single set of double doors without a pole; and 2) the thing about replacing the wall just kind of... went away.
Our architect and Permit Expediter sat in a series of meetings with FD, and apparently the solution that they reached that everyone agreed with was that, while the wall between DNA Pizza and the muffler shop is not a two-hour wall, the wall between DNA Pizza and DNA Lounge is a two-hour wall, so... that's good enough.
If this doesn't make sense to you, then we have something in common. If your next thought is, "I'm certainly not going to argue with that, I'm just going to say 'That sounds great' and take the win," then we have a second thing in common.
These are not the droids I am looking for. I can move along. Move along.
One bit of fallout from this wall thing is that they want the doors in the wall to have electromagnetic hold-opens on them, so that if the fire alarm goes off, they swing closed by themselves. Which is a pain in the ass, but, whatever. These doors were already required to have panic hardware on them (push-bars) which are ridiculously expensive, so the doors were already going to cost like $2K each. The magnetic bullshit will make them be more like $3K each. It sucks, but it's great compared to how things were looking last week.
Here's a classic moment they described to me about how these meetings go. Our guys are sitting on one side of the table, and a bunch of folks from Fire are on the other side. Things seem like they might be going ok, and then one of the Fire guys gets a look in his eyes like, "This can't be right, let me think... AHA! I've just thought of some new way to fuck your shit up!" What he says out loud is, "AHA! You need a Neighborhood Equivalency something-or-other!" I still have no idea what that is.
Our Permit Expediter says, "Ok, where do I get that form?" "Downstairs." "I'll be right back." Ten minutes later, he comes back with the completed form, and a check.
Then the guy from Fire throws up his hands and says, "Whoa, I don't usually receive those, you know, this is all kind of unusual, you'll have to talk to my boss about that." "Who's your boss?" Then our Expediter says, "Oh I know him," whips out his phone, "Hey, are you in the building? Great, I'll be right down." Ten minutes later, he comes back and hands the guy the signed and stamped form. "Anything else?"
That's the kind of bureaucratic badassery that I like to hear about!
Here's another good one:
There's a stairway going from the sidewalk to the second floor of the pizza place. It has a door that opens in. They tell us that all doors have to open out, so we have to turn that door around. But wait! Doors have to open out, but doors can't overlap the sidewalk by even an inch. So we have to build an alcove and move the door back. Fine. There's still room for a landing at the bottom of the stairs after doing that. But then someone looking at the plans says, "Oh, this isn't wide enough, there needs to be room to the side of the door, so that someone on that landing in a wheelchair can open the door."
This is a door that opens onto a flight of 22 stairs going up, and nothing else.
"Well, it's ADA, the law's the law, what can I do," says the bureaucratic flunkie.
Had anyone asked me that hypothetical question, my answer would have been, "You can use some common sense and approve the plans anyway, because that makes no kind of sense at all and you're not a crazy person." But that's not how bureaucrats work. There is no chance they can get in trouble for saying "no", so that's what they do. They have no incentive to make things work. I'd think that incentive would be, you know, "not being a crazy person" or "having pride in one's work" or even "basic human decency", but hey, what do I know.
Our architect got around that one with some paperwork and a Jedi Mind Trick or two. But come on.
Also today, we had our sound test by the Entertainment Commission. Back in February we had our hearing where they approved the expansion of our Place of Entertainment permit. After that, we had to get Fire and Building to agree to that as well, which they did, and the sound test on the new space, which we just passed. So at this point, it's down to the paperwork on the EC's side, and we'll have that permit in a few weeks.
All that's left now is ABC.
But those guys love us, so I'm sure that'll be no problem.
Work has begun on the new second floor door. We've cut away the wall on the DNA Pizza side, and the header for the new door frame is installed. We also had to relocate a bunch of cabling on the DNA Lounge side that was running across the wall we're going to cut away. As you can see, the top of the door is higher than DNA's roof, so the next step is to build a dog-house to raise the roof over where the new stairs will be. After that's done, we can actually saw through the concrete of the DNA Lounge wall. That's a few weeks away, though. They've drilled a few exploratory holes so far to make sure that everything's lined up where we think it is.
It looks like there's a bunch of conduit and plumbing and possibly a gas line inside the downstairs wall where that door's going to go, too, so that's going to be a pain in the ass to relocate.
The structural engineer decided that he didn't like the wall that was holding up the floor where the new bar on the second floor is going and wanted us to anchor it to the building's foundation. I swear, every time we let that guy walk into the building, my money just evaporates. This latest notion of his sounded like it was going to be another enormous clusterfuck, but they found a way to do it without it being too much of a nightmare. They took some of the posters off the wall downstairs in the restaurant and opened up that wall; used a five foot long drill bit to drill into the foundation; and epoxied a piece of threaded steel into it. That's going to be screwed in to a twelve foot piece of threaded steel coming down from above, and the whole floor will sit on that.
Tomorrow is the second night of one of our new Friday events, The Launch. The first one was fun. You should come! The crew putting it on put a lot of effort into coordinating their uniforms: I have never seen so many NASA hotpants before. They also have this crazy art-car they park outside that has a space ship on a scissor lift. Here's a video from last month:
Here's something we will probably never see again: the interior of DNA Lounge lit by sunlight! It's from the hole in the roof where the dormer above the new stairs connecting the second floors will go.
You may have noticed in one of my earlier photos that the roof-cutting revealed some text painted on the South wall of the pizza place, which hasn't been exposed to view since before DNA Lounge was built... It's very dirty in there and hard to read even with a flashlight, but the letters I was able to make out were S_RIES. I'm guessing "ACCESSORIES". But to what? To WHAT??
And back inside:
So here's something you don't ever want someone to say to you: "So, when you flush this toilet a bunch of times, water comes out... between the floor tiles... six feet away."
Because when they say that, it results in the above photo of someone jackhammering up your floor.
Oh, also, a couple of the other toilets are leaking. You know, the indestructible stainless steel ones that cost like $2K each, because they last "forever" (not to mention "suicide proof", "no crevices for hiding of contraband", and "foolproof and incapable of error". The theory is that they have developed pinhole leaks in the bowls. Because apparently you don't want to put anything caustic like urine in a toilet. Ok, they're 12 years old now, but still. My idea is, "turn them over, open them up, and coat the underside of the bowl with an inch of epoxy", but our plumber doesn't think that will work.
In addition to being a construction site, we are also a dance club. There are some recent photos of that, too:
Hey, don't forget to vote for us in Best of the Bay! There's only a week left.