Yard haunt felled by fire (permits)

Here is a sad article from a few days ago, about a yard haunt in Lakewood that was shut down because it did not meet the Los Angeles County Fire Department's "Halloween Haunted Houses Requirements."

This is one of those bureaucratic b.s. situations, where the haunt's owner, Brandon Zell, contacted the city planning department and was told he didn't need a permit. However, not only does the county fire department require a permit (which involves an inspection), but also the city does not allow residents to set up temporary structures with walls in their front yards.

Lakewood spokesman Don Waldie states that the city is not trying to ruin anyone's fun; they just have to put safety first. "Fire marshals and building inspectors are paid to worry about the worst and are compelled to apply that worry to things like homemade haunted houses."

Fair enough. But why is it so hard to make accomodations with someone who tried to get a permit and was initially told he didn't need one? It would be one thing of Brandon Zell had simply ignored requirements, but he tried, thought things were okay, and then ended up having to shut down (after spending $1,500 on the yard haunt) under threat of a fine.

"We're not spoilsports at City Hall," Waldie says. Oh yes, you are.