News & Politics

Government Tells Girl With Lemonade Stand She Must Pay $3,500 for Permit

A 10-year-old girl who had a good idea for a lemonade stand ran afoul of the Orange County, California government when bureaucrats demanded she purchase a $3,500 permit in order to sell her wares.

Anabelle Lockwood and her father worked together to create a “gourmet lemonade” stand using her grandmother’s recipes, selling the drinks from a wooden stand designed and built by her dad. She tried putting the stand in front of her  home but residents objected. Then, after finding another spot, bureaucrats swooped in and shut her down. They told her that she would need to get a permit and upgrade the stand to meet “building codes.”  The cost to reopen the stand was $3,500.

How Anabelle was able to obtain the money and reopen the stand is inspiring.

Hit and Run:

That might not seem like a lot of money to get a small business off the ground, but its more money than most 10-year olds have ever seen. The city gave Anabelle just 30 days to get permitted, during which time she had to turn down working at “a wedding, corporate events, movies in the park and church events” because she lacked the official government permission slips, KTLA reported.

Hoping to raise the necessary funds, Anabelle’s parents launched a page on GoFundMe, a crowdfunding website, and started spreading her story.

“She got lucky having a dad that can build cool stuff and a mom that is in marketing,” wrote Annabelle’s parents on her GoFundMe page.

Indeed, she is. Anabelle ended up all over the local news in southern California during the first two weeks of September, and all that attention helped raise more than $3,200 through GoFundMe as of September 14.

Her story has a happy ending, but the regulations that nearly shut down her lemonade stand have serious consequences for other businesses. Not everyone can rely on crowdsourced fundraising—or help from a mom who works in marketing—to help meet the regulatory and licensing burdens put in place by state and local governments.

Some of the bureaucrat-versus-lemonade-stand stories are just ridiculous. Like the city officials in Portland, Oregon, who made an 11-year old girl beg for the right to have a lemonade stand to help pay for her braces after the city denied her permit, or the ones in Austin, Texas, who apparently didn’t get the irony of holding a “Lemonade Day” when the city would graciously allow kids to forgo a $425 daily permit for one day only.

“Perhaps these cities hope to give children a taste of what the real world is like for grown-up entrepreneurs who face a long list of barriers to entry, including needless occupational licensing requirements,” said Chris Dobrogosz, a spokesman for the Institute for Justice, a national libertarian law firm that has challenged burdensome licensing rules for hair-braiders, florists and other professions.

This bureaucratic mania for licensing has nothing to do with “protecting the public” and everything to do with control. It’s another example of government trying to justify its existence by creating a problem that isn’t there and then coming up with various means to deal with it.

Thirty five hundred dollars for a permit to operate a lemonade stand is outrageous. But that’s what you get when government claims they want to “protect you” — and especially, the children.