Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Too Many Asshats; so little time -OR- Just a simple plan

“The reason people find it so hard to be happy is that they always see the past better than it was, the present worse than it is, and the future less resolved than it will be” - Marcel Pagnol

Oh, what tangled webs we weave when first we pretend to regulate actions. Mr. Pagnol has the advantage of having died in 1974; before they changed the water the rules that in turn have changed everything. It's hard to argue that our present situation is not FUBAR or that, barring a complete CHANGE in how we approach and solve problems is immediately adopted, our future is condemned to continue FUBAR as our roadmap.

Monkey see; monkey do. I, for one, think using local politics as illustrative of the (too complex for our puny brains) machinations playing out in the more evolved bureaucracies helps. This is where tomorrow's leaders cut their teeth, make their name and do their practicums. Sadly, many of them are trying (badly) to imitate their big league heroes. Their efforts would be laughable, save for the shambles they leave behind.

We begin today's excursion into the twilight zone with a simple matter. A local spaghetti joint wants to add al fresco dining. (Okay, not so simple. Some backround is needed to fully appreciate the funny bits.) The cook in the kitchen of this particular pasta place developed a reputation as a minor culinary deity. He did this in a several years partnership with the mover and shaker I told you about
here. Gaetano's developed a menu, attitude and reputation as a "dining experience". Then came the falling out and creative differences. The chef packed his knives and walked... down the street to a vacant storefront (hmmm, one of many)where he hung out his shingle as sole proprietor.

It was a smaller space that hadn't been a restaurant so the build out was total. Wall to wall, floor to ceiling. The new Gaetano's opened its doors to the young and trendy who had suffered through the "hiatus". It opened with slightly higher prices (to keep out the riff-raff), but the same fine quality spaghetti cuisine.

Demand remained high, so naturally there was an almost immediate need for more tables. Luckily, the building had a couple of parking places out back that could be sacrificed. After all, two parking spaces in an area so parkingly challenged that there was a concerted effort to tear down people's homes to create more was narrowly derailed by the outraged neighbors just a few short years ago... but I digress.

So our repositioned chef devised a scheme and submitted a plan. Eliminate the two spaces, put up a "fence" and cover it to create room for 6-8 additional tables al fresco. It was to look like this.

He then took his plan to the zoning board who recommended, with clear reservations and restrictions, approval by the village council. You should watch it just to get a feel for the "process".

(I particularly like the rustic faux brick, plastic grapes, rubber cheese descriptive used by the builder for the ambiance)

Fast-forward several months and some funny things happened in between. The gable roofed shelter magically turned into this:

Note the subtle difference between design and build? You have to look closely to see them. Almost imperceptible eh?
The local paper provides some serious money quotes from the major characters in this farce. Restaurant 'patio' to go unpunished

Does anyone want to bet that the next time we hear from Chef Gaetano Di Bennedetto it will be to get permits for his rooftop al fresco dining area? Just a simple fence with a cover?

And that dear friends is how policy evolves. If you give a mouse a cookie...

For further insight into the upper echelon thinking that's been driving this local onto the express rails, you can read more of his thinkering here.

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