Monday, September 28, 2009
Help Me Howard: Barber Pole
Are you a taxpayer? We all are. Now imagine being a taxpayer trying to make a new business successful and having one city official block a request after two city boards approved it. What can you do when a city official does that? One solution, contact Help me Howard with Patrick Fraser.
WSVN -- When you hear people talk about the old days, this is the kind of place they were talking about.
Elena Linares: "What we do here is offer the old fashioned hot lather shaves. We encourage them to get their hands done, their feet done, and we specialize in hair cutting."
Elena Linares opened Razzledazzle barbershop in Coral Gables this year.
Elena Linares: "The decor is to throw men back in time to a classier time, easier, stress free."
Dress her barbers in corsets, pamper the customers and create jobs, and increase the tax revenue for Coral Gables. Just one little flaw in her business plan, customers couldn't find her shop.
Nelson Alfaro: "I accidentally walked into the business across the hall. They had to direct me across the hall to where this was."
Elena's shop is at 224 Miracle Mile, but good luck finding Razzledazzle since it's down a long hall, far from the busy Miracle Mile, so Elena had an idea.
Elena Linares: "The first thing I thought of was, I have to find a barber pole that is classy. I did find one, and it was perfect."
It's an old fashioned twirling barber pole that would be mounted on this column to let customers know she is in business, so she applied for a permit.
Elena Linares: "I put 13 packages together for all the different heads of department that needed to get one."
Thirteen packages asking for permission, plus $1,500 in fees and then good news.
Elena Linares: "And finally did get it approved through the Board of Architects and the Board of Adjustments. I was so hysterically excited that this was approved."
Now let's cut to the bad news: one Coral Gables City employee obviously had a problem with the pole, so that employee decided to appeal the city's approval by its own boards.
Elena Linares: "I was in shock, yes."
Elena is trying to create jobs and tax money for Coral Gables, and by the city appealing the city's approval it's costing Elena money, hurting her business and of course making money for the city through more fees.
Elena Linares: "The city is supposed to support small businesses, especially during this economy, and I find myself struggling when I should be focused on running my business."
Something seems wrong here with one city employee blocking a pole approved by the city's boards. Howard, can governments work this way?
Howard Finkelstein: "Legally, governments can pretty much do anything they want, and to be perfectly blunt, they don't have a reputation for doing a good job. The city can do this even though they could wind up driving someone out of business and costing the city jobs and tax revenue."
The pole was appealed by an employee from the building and zoning department who said it violated Coral Gables codes, but the day after we contacted the city, common sense kicked in, someone in the city manager's officer decided to listen to their boards and stopped the appeal of the barber pole. Elena can now put up the pole.
Elena Linares: "Help Me Howard was the best. Thank you so much."
Elena is excited about Coral Gables' change of heart and can finally let people know she is in business.
Elena Linares: "I'm going to have a little ribbon, I'm going to have a ribbon cutting for the barber pole when it goes up, just thrilled."
Patrick Fraser: "And the haircuts are not expensive. That's a way to make a business successful. Good luck, Elena.
"Now, we are hearing from a lot of people who claim government agencies seem to be coming after them. The taxpayers say they believe it's to raise money. The cities and counties deny it. Who knows?"
A growing headache left you feeling shaggy? Want to trim it down to size? Contact us, we're not barbers, but we will battle for you.