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Statement: “If you want to get married in a city park, depending on the size of the wedding, you could be looking at nine different permits,” mayoral candidate Nathan Fletcher said at a Tea Party event last week, the Union-Tribune reported Nov. 26.

Determination: Misleading

Analysis: Part of Fletcher’s campaign for mayor focuses on streamlining regulations. He wants to make it easier to get permits and has proposed moving more paperwork online.

To underscore that last month, Fletcher cited the number of permits needed to have a wedding in a city park. Depending on the size, he told a group of Tea Partiers, a wedding could require nine different permits. That’s nine different applications to fill out and nine different fees to pay.

Fletcher held the regulation up as a model of government inefficiency, so we asked his campaign for an explanation. How could a wedding possibly spur nine permits?

Actually reserving a city park for a wedding requires just one permit. It’s a one-page application seeking your contact information and basic details such as the wedding date and number of guests.

Add an open bar, a full dinner and live music to the reception, and that’s four permits.

Fletcher’s campaign added two more permits by including a large canopy tent and an industrial generator for lighting.

So that’s six permits total. The campaign put the actual wedding ceremony at a private home, adding two permits because they charged guests to attend an event at a private home that includes live music. The ninth and final permit comes because people were also charged to attend the reception in the park.

Though it’s technically possible a wedding could require nine permits, it would only happen in a bizarre set of circumstances. City staff said the kind of large canopy tents and generators that require permits, for example, aren’t normally used for weddings. They’re typically used for community festivals or concerts. It would also require the lucky couple to charge not one but two admissions for its festivities.

For the size of an event Fletcher’s campaign described, city staff also said vendors normally handle much of the permitting. Caterers and tent renters, for example, would get permits for the services they provide. It wouldn’t be another layer of red tape for the bride and groom to worry about.

According to our definition, a Misleading statement takes an element of truth and distorts it or exaggerates it, giving it a deceptive impression.

Though a nine-permit wedding is possible, the extremity of Fletcher’s scenario exaggerates how many permits are needed for a wedding in a city park. He even extended the festivities to another location so the number of permits would increase from seven to nine.

Fletcher’s campaign did not dispute our findings. It issued the following statement in response to this Fact Check:

We looked at the number of permits that a wedding in San Diego might reasonably require. We saw 9 and based our statement on that. Even if the number is 3 or 6 or some other number, it’s still a confusing process and that’s why Nathan released a plan to bring the City’s processes into the modern era.

Keegan Kyle is a news reporter for voiceofsandiego.org. He writes about public safety and handles the Fact Check Blog. What should he write about next?

Please contact him directly at keegan.kyle@voiceofsandiego.org or 619.550.5668. You can also find him on Twitter (@keegankyle) and Facebook.

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