Home Business Permits

If you want to run a business from your home in the City of Santa Rosa, you must file for a Home Occupation Permit.

Eligibility & Compliance


To be eligible you need to comply with all laws. The business cannot generate noise, odor, dust, vibration, fumes, smoke or electrical interference; and it must be incidental to the use of your home as a residence. The business must not change the character of the building or neighborhood. If you are a renter, the property owner must agree to the home occupation and sign the application form.

In addition, you must meet the requirements of one of the following three categories:
  1. Exempt
  2. General
  3. Special

Exempt Home Occupations


Certain types of business are exempt from obtaining a Home Occupation Permit. Those businesses are ones that:
  • Involve the use of telephone and mail only
  • Are conducted elsewhere, but may store equipment and materials in one vehicle garaged on the premises
  • Are subordinate to a main office located elsewhere, and no clients visit the home on a regular basis
  • Involve tutoring of no more than two students at a time

General Home Occupation Permits


A General Home Occupation Permit may be issued if:
  • There is no sale of goods or commodities from the residence
  • Your business does not generate vehicular or pedestrian traffic not normally associated with a single family residential use, and no clients visit the home on a regular basis
  • Not more than 25% of the floor space of the main residence is used for the business
  • No exterior signs or any other form of advertising which informs the public of the address of the home is used

Special Home Occupation Permits


Special Home Occupation Permits are required when:
  • Your business utilizes the services of a maximum of two non resident employees
  • Customers or clients visit the home
  • An accessory structure is utilized
Parking must be provided for Special Home Occupations. One parking space must be provided for each employee or client arriving by vehicle. New parking areas and accessory structures must meet certain requirements and have design approval prior to construction.

Prohibited Home Occupations


City codes specifically prohibit the following businesses from being conducted from a residence. These include animal hospitals, automobile repair shops, pet grooming shops, kennels, bee keeping, raising animals for commercial purposes, weapons and ammunition sales, welding and wood working shops.

Procedure to Obtain a General Home Occupation Permit


  1. File Application
    If you are able to meet the conditions of a General Permit, you should apply at the front counter of the Planning & Economic Development Department.
  2. Staff Approval
    Planning Division staff usually will be able to approve your application immediately. Occasionally, other departments may need to be consulted. In that case, an additional week or two may be required before a final decision can be made. When approved, you will receive a copy of the application that will all requirements under which you may operate your business.

Procedure to Obtain a Special Home Occupation Permit


  1. File Application
    If your business requires a Special Permit, you will need to submit an application to the Planning & Economic Development Department, pay the required fee, and submit a site plan showing the proposed business, any parking or accessory structures, a 300 foot map, public hearing labels, and any other information that will determine if the business complies with all requirements of the city.
  2. Compliance
    If the proposed home occupation meets all requirements, the Department will set a date for the Planning Commission to review the application. The Department will notify residents within 300 feet of the proposed business, who will be able to object in writing or in person at the Planning Commission meeting. If no objection is received to the business, the Commission may approve the permit with conditions.
  3. Public Hearing (if necessary)
    If the proposed business is objected to, the Planning Commission will not act and the Department will set a date for a public hearing before the Planning Commission for further review.