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."