Salt Lake Deregulates

Liberating lemonade


The Salt Lake County Council slashed 150 pages of business regulations during the last year, eliminating dozens of license requirements and 45 fees.

The Salt Lake Tribune reported in February that the county's Business and Planning Division reduced the regulations for licensing new businesses from 218 to 132 pages. It cut rules that applied to chicken hatcheries, mini golf, slaughterhouses, and rooms where people play "backgammon, cards, checkers or other games of similar nature, or any game played with beans, buttons, dice or similar devices."

Entrepreneurs looking to open an arcade won't have to pay $250 a year. Nor will bowling alleys have to pony up $15 per lane. Supermarkets will no longer owe fees based on the number of gallons of milk in the store.

Laundromats are now excused from paying $6 to register each coin-operated machine. And best of all, "lemonade stands and similar operations run by children" are now exempt from all licensing requirements. 

Only businesses already regulated under state or federal law lost out. Stores selling alcohol and tobacco, massage parlors, residential solicitors, taxi companies, check cashers, and alarm businesses still require extra paperwork to get started. 

The county set fees for its remaining licenses at a level no higher than necessary to cover the cost of processing applications. Alan Anderson, president and CEO of the local Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the decision to make the process revenue neutral. "If it costs $150 to process it," Anderson told the Tribune, "the business license should cost $150, not $200. Don't turn it into a revenue center."