Monday, February 17, 2014

A Milestone to Celebrate: I Have Closed All My Businesses in Ventura County, California

We'll start with this one.  This business owner's situation epitomizes what all business owners have to ENDURE in order to do operate in CA.  This owner has more stick-to-it-iveness than I could ever muster.  I would have left not only Ventura County where he was located, but the whole state as well.

It took years in Ventura County to make even the simplest modifications to the campground we ran. For example, it took 7 separate permits from the County (each requiring a substantial payment) just to remove a wooden deck that the County inspector had condemned. In order to allow us to temporarily park a small concession trailer in the parking lot, we had to (among other steps) take a soil sample of the dirt under the asphalt of the parking lot. It took 3 years to permit a simple 500 gallon fuel tank with CARB and the County equivilent. The entire campground desperately needed a major renovation but the smallest change would have triggered millions of dollars of new facility requirements from the County that we simply could not afford.


A local attorney held regular evening meetings with my employees to brainstorm new ways the could sue our company under arcane California law. For example, we went through three iterations of rules and procedures trying to comply with California break law and changing "safe" harbors supposedly provided by California court decisions. We only successfully stopped the suits by implementing a fingerprint timekeeping system and making it an automatic termination offense to work through lunch. This operation has about 25 employees vs. 400 for the rest of the company. 100% of our lawsuits from employees over our entire 10-year history came from this one site. At first we thought it was a manager issue, so we kept sending in our best managers from around the country to run the place, but the suits just continued.

I know the solution:  ignore the damn county rules.  I guarantee you this guy was trying to run an honest business, which we can see in Ventura County, is pretty near impossible.

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