Foodservice Equipment Reports

Red Tape Gets Cut For Restaurant Development In L.A. County

Designing, building and opening a restaurant just got a lot easier in Los Angeles, where revised regulations are reducing bureaucratic holdups. The new rules, put in place last week, reduce contradictory regulations among the city agencies overseeing the building trades involved—including mechanical, architectural, health, grease control, and electrical. The overlapping regulations led to delays of up to two years for some restaurants to open. But meetings between operators and the L.A. Central City Association have smoothed the complexity of the process and made it easier to obtain approvals from various agencies.

The L.A. County Health Department, in conjunction with five other city departments, has established a case-management network to streamline approvals and provide "hand-holding" assistance to operators and their design and construction teams. A foodservice establishment case manager (FSECM) can be requested to shepherd a project through the three stages of development—design, permit and construction. The assigned FSECM can help with everything from clarifying code requirements, determining permit costs and obtaining clearances to establishing a construction sequence and scheduling final inspections.

The new multi-agency approach should eliminate costly problems such as this one cited in The Los Angeles' Times: One prospective restaurant owner installed a system for handling grease at the insistence of the health department, but the sanitation bureau, which hauls the grease, then insisted on a different system—resulting in a $40,000 discrepancy.

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