Our ever evolving saga with the health department has a new chapter. Since June, when The Underground Market was shut down, we have been trying our best to work with DPH (Department of Public Health). We have all the permits we need, fill out the ever increasing number of forms that are required for the privilege of feeding people in our fair city, and jump through all the myriad hoops put in front of us. I have been trying my best to come up with solutions to re-open The Underground Market that they’re ok with, and at every turn we’re rebuked. They seem to have no interest in supporting the food community in SF. Every step they take is a step to push anyone doing innovative food further underground.
The most recent situation for us is with our upcoming Basque dinners this weekend. After filling out permits, sending in forms, getting a legit kitchen with a permitted dining room, we are still in danger of getting shut down. The space we are using apparently has an invalid occupancy permit the the fire department. This basically means that a form needs to be turned in to prove that people can safely be in the space. This is the same space we have held our events for months, without a peep about occupancy. Suddenly, a day before our event, we’re told we’re in violation. I can’t see this as anything but a move to shut us down.
I realize they have a job to do, but while the city talks out of one side of its mouth about supporting small businesses, and getting people back to work, the very city organizations that deal with small businesses do everything they can to shut us down. If we desire any real change in the way our country eats, we need to do more than just swear off mcdonalds. We need to work together to create a situation where it’s easier to serve good local food at a local scale than it is to serve processed crap flown in from all over the world. We need to do more than just make an effort to shop at farmers markets, we need to work to make it viable for small producers to start businesses using local ingredients. Thankfully we’re moving in that direction, but certainly not there yet.
We are going ahead with our events tomorrow. Wish us luck.