Deregulation I Can Believe In


Here’s a sad-but-typical tale of life in the big city:

The owners of Columbia Heights Coffee, located on 11th Street between Park and Monroe, informed me this weekend that they will not be expanding after all. I feel really bad for them because they told me they had paid two years rent for nothing. It seems that the permitting process was just way too cumbersome. Oh well, at least the original spot will remain. For those curious the for rent sign says $1K per month.

I’m someone who believes that regulation is necessary in a variety of fields to protect public health, public safety, the environment, etc. But it’s unquestionably my experience that the volume of regulation on retail establishments—especially in urban areas—is completely beyond any reason. A city has a strong interest in making it possible for people to open businesses. Huge numbers of DC neighborhoods, including Columbia Heights, are plagued with a bizarre situation in which existing establishments are unpleasantly crowded and yet there are plenty of vacant storefronts. Life would be much better if those storefronts were filled with shops, cafes, bars, and restaurants offering people some goods and services.