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Tuesday May 9, 2006 // By Sarah

Our Tent. I Mean Canopy.

We have this totally fabulous plan about our wedding. Promontory Point has a long room flanked by two stone patios. French doors make the whole space accessible. When we first booked the space, we asked, “if it rains, can we cover the patios?” and the woman from the park district said “Of course! No problem.” Except for all the problems.

Problem One: The park district can’t help you. They don’t seem to have any pictures of events that utilized tents. They don’t know anything about the city permit process. They don’t know what size tent you need. They suggest you call the tent rental companies.

Problem Two: The tent companies can’t (or won’t) help you. They also don’t seem to have any pictures or records of events they’ve done at the Point. They don’t know anything about the city permit process. They don’t know what size tent you need. Our quote from one company includes a $200 charge for the city permit (which is right), but adds on $400 for the required architectural drawings and $900 for a “permit expediter.” First of all, you don’t have the drawings on file? Second of all, $900 to stand in line at city hall? I could take whole vacation days and bring a book. What the hell.

Problem Three: City Hall can’t help you. My lunch hour at the Department of Construction and Permits started so hopefully. Everyone there was strangely cheerful. The hipster dude at the front desk was solving problems left and right. Contractors and architects were smiling and shaking hands. I told someone I needed a permit application for a tent, and she said “oh, you need Thomas,” and went to get him. Although I watched her tell him I was waiting and although he looked up at me and made eye contact, Thomas proceeded to do 20 minutes of other stuff. He answered the phone. He xeroxed some things. He made a call. He talked to some people. Then, when he finally graced me with his presence, it turned out that I had found the only passive-aggressive surly employee in the land of joy that is DCAP.

Within twenty seconds he told me that our whole plan was a no-go. Any tent needs to be 20 feet away from the building. I explained again about the patios and how the park district lady said “no problem,” and he just sighed heavily and said “do you need me to show you the code?” Ten minutes later, he returned with an extremely sketchy packet, including a badly xeroxed copy of the code. After a few more minutes of bickering, that included Thomas wielding a highlighter and me interrupting him to read subsections of the code out loud, he conceded that, in fact, you can anchor a canopy to the building—that is, just a roof. No walls.

I have a nagging suspicion that I haven’t seen the last of Thomas and his highlighter.

Now to talk to the tent company about those $400 architectural drawings of our tent. I mean canopy.

Posted by Sam Felder // May 9, 17:35
Posted by ellen Wight // Jul 27, 08:43
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