Greenville, South Carolina is one of the best places in the world to live and work, so it’s time for the local regulators to start acting like it.
Although I have come to know many fine, hardworking employees of the City of Greenville, our system is broken. Every week a client tells me their biggest challenge in running a business is the City of Greenville. (The County is even worse, but we’ll leave that for another post.) Business licenses, tax compliance, inspections, permit applications and zoning are just a few of the ways local officials make life miserable for business.
It’s not the fact that theses regulations exist, but the atrocious manner in which the bureaucrats impose confusion and delays. Take the business license annual renewal form for example. This thing looks like they gave a math professor some cocaine and a highlighter and told him to make it weird. And why the hell are we filling out paper forms and mailing checks in 2017? One lawyer I know spent over $1,000 of his time just filling out the form. This nonsense must stop.
Another example is sign permitting, when Campbell Teague ordered this fly sign for our window, the bureaucrat rejected it outright for not conforming to size restrictions. Turns out that this bureaucrat didnt even measure it. Jordan measured the sign, and it was nowhere close to exceeding the allowed dimensions. That’s burro crap. Such arbitrary and capricious conduct should receive a public shaming.
OK, now that you get the problem, here are some ideas for a solution:
- Online forms – every contact with the City should be online and optimized for mobile devices–especially payments. This reduces inefficiency and allows the city to capture structured data without transcription. If the nation of Estonia can pull this off, surely we could make an effort.
- Appeals process – every City action should be subject to a strict and fast appeals process. Bureaucrats found mucking about should be publicly censured with costs and attorneys fees awarded to the prevailing party.
- Rewrite the Municipal Code – the Code is bloated, badly worded, and inconsistent in many places. It also doesn’t contemplate life in the 21st century knowledge economy and high tech manufacturing. (ICYMI textiles left a few years ago.) We must write a new code that makes Greenville competitive for the next 100 years.
These are just a few examples of low hanging fruit for improving City operations. If we want to make THAT Greenville the best place in earth for business, we need THAT City Hall to act like it.