In order for America’s Finest City to become the World’s Most Innovative City, San Diego city government must lead by example. We must take a fresh look at everything city government does and put a new set of eyes on old problems to find innovative solutions.

Over the last few months, I’ve met with hundreds of innovators, entrepreneurs and job creators who agree: To retain and expand new economy job-generating companies, the City of San Diego must change a number of its business practices. And step one is the first place a new business goes before hiring people: getting the permits necessary to open a business.

In today’s world you can do almost everything online: Register your car, get a mortgage for your home, trade stocks, buy just about anything from anywhere in the world, and communicate with anyone anywhere in the world. But, for some reason, in the City of San Diego you can’t apply to open a new business online.

A biotech company attempting to set up in San Diego would likely have to file an application with the Mayor’s Office of Economic Growth Services (Location: 202 C St.), the Fire Department (Second Avenue), a Technical Services/Hazmat application and submit to their inspections, CEDMAT permits and inspections, Knox Box Installation inspections (Second Avenue), Special Survey inspections, Neighborhood Code Compliance (1222 First Ave., fifth floor), Police Department (1400 E St.) and pay a Fire Company Inspection Program fee, Alarm Permit fees and Noise Permit fees.

In a New York Minute

There has to be a better way to do business. We can see examples of more innovative cities. New York City uses a “Business Wizard” that allows any user to answer a few simple questions about the business they would like to start and, within minutes, the website generates a link to every necessary permit for that venture.

We can do better than New York. If elected mayor, I’ll usher in a new innovative age at City Hall that will begin with, but not be limited to, the way we help new businesses start. San Diego’s site will be available online and by mobile device. It will go above and beyond New York’s example and streamline and simplify the process.

Simplifying the permit process will not compromise safeguards that protect the public health, safety and welfare. Legitimate businesses are fully prepared to meet the city’s planning, environmental and safety standards. What these businesses cannot accommodate are endless delays and bureaucratic run-arounds.

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