Whack the camel’s nose

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Guest Commentary
by Steve Vaus – Councilman, City of Poway

I remember a proverb from grade school:

One cold night, as a Bedouin sat in his tent, a camel gently thrust his nose under the flap and looked in. “Master,” he said, “let me put my nose in your tent. It’s cold out here.” “By all means,” said the Bedouin, as he turned over and went to sleep. A little later the Bedouin awoke to find that the camel had not only put his nose in the tent but his head and neck also.

As the ancient tale goes, ultimately the camel occupies the tent while the Bedouin shivers outside in the cold.

Even as a kid I couldn’t figure out why the guy in the tent didn’t simply smack that camel’s snout. That would have solved the problem once and for all.

In my service to Poway on the city council, I’ve wondered more than once how, in such a conservative stronghold, the government “camel” has gotten its nose so far into the people’s tent. How, in Poway of all places, has our muni code become rife with government creep and excessive regulation? All I can figure is that my council predecessors were (perhaps unwittingly) seduced by the siren song of staff, “more control” and those council members, elected to serve the people, became the government camel.

Enough is enough. I’m here to whack the camel’s nose as many times as necessary to get him out of the people’s tent.

For starters, next week I’m bringing a proposal to the Poway City Council to strike our municipal code section that requires a permit, fee and continuing renewals for anyone running a business from their home. I can think of no justification to regulate activities in a home which have no impact on infrastructure or City services.

Admittedly, it is a simple permit process and we’re not talking about a lot of money. But any need for permission and any fee at all is wrong. Adding insult to injury, on top of the $116 fee, we collect an additional dollar “to increase disability access and compliance with construction-related accessibility requirements, and to develop educational resources for business in order to facilitate compliance with federal and state disability laws.”

In the UT-SD’s recent editorial highlighting my proposal they hit the nail on the head calling the preceding language “29 words of gobbledygook considering that under Poway law home businesses aren’t allowed to have any employees or retail traffic.”

Mind you, I understand the need for limitations on such activities. The activity should not change the character of the neighborhood. But to tell a web site designer, an author, an inventor or anyone working alone in their home that they need the City’s blessing is nonsense.

There’s an ad currently running on television that rattles off a list of big businesses launched in homes and garages – Apple, Hewlett Packard, Google to name a few. An impressive list which begs the question: What future multi-billion dollar company might we have incubating in a home in Poway?

Let’s get out of their way and encourage their entrepreneurship! And when they’re ready to expand hopefully they’ll choose to take space in our industrial park because they like the way they’ve been treated.

I want to send a clear message to enterprises of every size, from home start-up to international giants: POWAY MEANS BUSINESS.

But for that slogan to ring true, I may have to whack the camel’s nose now and again.

I stand ready.

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Comments 6

  1. In an economic climate where good jobs are often hard to find, the government should be encouraging entrepreneurship, not creating roadblocks and red tape. Great work Steve. Keep going!

  2. With Merrillee Boyack gone, I was afraid that the Poway City Council would stay status quo on things. It is refreshing to see Steve far ahead of the other Council members on way to improve Poway. Steve sees a need to get rid of some of the red tape and make things easier for businesses, and is that what we want. If we bring in businesses, Poway should generate more tax dollars and those tax dollars go to improving Poway (Let’s hope that if this happens, that Steve will say “No” to hiring more management. We need workers, not more bureaucrats).

    And a final comment, if Steve decides to run for mayor, this could make the race more interesting. You have Don who thinks he should be reelected because he’s been mayor for so long, and then you have Steve who is coming up with ways to improve Poway. Could be a very interesting race. Maybe I should write a piece for sdrostra about this race??

  3. I agree with this author on this subject. I may be what you folks call a liberal, but I’m not blind to the fact that we are in the middle of a municipal war for your money to sustain the un-sustainable pay/pension situations that are so out of whack with the private sector.

  4. Every person holding an elected office should take note of how it’s done. The perspective in this article demonstrates a clear understanding of American values and what brought this country to the level of greatness it has once achieved.

    I feel fortunate and blessed to be a Poway resident for a number of reasons. One being I am represented on the Council by someone who truly “gets it”.

    Keep whacking at that camel. Let us know if you need anything to whack it with or any help with the whacking.

  5. All the reasons we voted for him, he follows through on what he believes in. I remember him saying, “We need to build bridges for our Poway businesses instead of barriers”

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