Urban planning community

Poll results: How should home occupations be addressed?

Voters
13. You may not vote on this poll
  • Permitted by right (possibly with performance conditions), with no permit

    7 53.85%
  • Permitted by right, but subject to permit

    2 15.38%
  • Conditional/Special Use Permit

    2 15.38%
  • Prohibited completely

    0 0%
  • It is more complicated and/or I'd like to talk about this grey area

    2 15.38%
+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 25 of 33

Thread: Certain home occupations allowed without permits

  1. #1
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Southeast US
    Posts
    540

    Certain home occupations allowed without permits

    Should Home Occupations in Residential Zones be allowed outright without a Business Permit as long as they do not exceed whatever size, noise, advertising, vibration, lighting, off premisis electrical disturbance, parking or other nuisances, or other requirements you may specify?

    The point being that much business is already commonly conducted in the home over computers such as consulting, selling by mail by Ebay, etc., which should not require city efforts to find, review, Permit, investigate, or enforce. Small business should be allowed outright and only be regulated if they exceed a specified level of activity. Businesses that exceed those limits would not be allowed, and therefore would not need city involvment in a Permit process.

    The city can specify any criteria it wants to, and any violation may constitute a nuisance that could be addressed then, if there is a complaint.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    As far south of SoCal as I Will Go
    Posts
    5,458
    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    Should Home Occupations in Residential Zones be allowed outright without a Business Permit .
    What requires a business permit? Ummm.. a business...in City limits..

    okay..

    So you do you business at home...

    is it a business...

    why yes...

    then get a permit (home occ). Why would you deny your city revenue during these hard times? These aren't that expensive (typically) and if your running a legit businesses, then it is a business expense and a tax write off. Duh.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  3. #3
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    South of Canada
    Posts
    347
    State law mandates that towns allow them here, with some very logical limitations on ownership, size (relative to the size of the home, not absolute), number of employees, signage, and outward appearance as a business. We do require a permit, a one time fee of approximately $60.

    So far it has worked very very well in our town. We have many in-home businesses which abide by the restrictions nicely, with no neighbor complaints. They appear to be most common for CPAs, massage therapists, title searchers, and bakers (locally made organic, vegan or gluten-free baked goods present a thriving business here). I think we also have a taxidermist, a few small appliance repair-men, and small computer-consulting business.

    These rules are meant to apply to people who own and operate their own business from their home. Not John Smith who telecommutes for Google from his basement.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    209
    No. If a similar business established in a commercial zoned area they would be required a license. Why should the home occupation be any different?

    While that may seem like a common sense approach and I'd probably guestimate 70% of those engaged in such a home occupation never ask their local jurisdiction if an occupational tax is required ordinances are specific.

    Our definition of Occupational Tax is, "A tax levied on persons, partnerships, corporations or other entities for engaging in an occupation, profession or business for revenue raising purposes."

    Further in our code states, "An occupational tax shall be levied upon each business and practitioner of a profession or occupation (except those exempted by Georgia law) with one or more offices or locations in the city based upon the maximum number of employees of the business or practitioner during the thirty (30) days next preceding December first of each year."

  5. #5
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,620
    I'm not aware of any cities around me that requires a permit or prior inspection for a home occupation aside from the typical business license. In my fair city, we address it through code enforcement later on if it operates in violation of our development code.

    Excerpt from our code:

    (2) Home Occupations
    a. General:
    A home occupation is that accessory use of a dwelling that shall constitute all or some portion of the livelihood of a person or persons living in the dwelling. The home occupation shall be clearly incidental to the residential use of the dwelling and shall not change the essential residential character of the dwelling or adversely affect the uses permitted in the district of which it is a part.
    b. Home occupations are permitted provided the occupation meets the following provisions:
    (i) Is conducted entirely within a dwelling or integral part thereof and has no outside storage of any kind related to the home occupation;
    (ii) Is clearly incidental and secondary to the principal use of the dwelling;
    (iii) Is conducted only by persons residing on the premises (nonresident employees are not permitted);
    (iv) Does not affect the residential character of the dwelling or cause the dwelling to be extended or altered, internally or externally;
    (v) No identification sign or advertising of the home occupation is placed or situated on the site or structures, as required in Chapter 10;
    (vi) Deliveries by commercial vehicle occur only between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m.;
    (vii) Does not generate traffic, parking, sewerage, or water use in excess of what is normal in the residential neighborhood;
    (viii) Do not create disturbing or offensive noise, vibration, smoke, dust, odor, heat, glare, unhealthy or unsightly condition, electrical interference, or other hazard to persons or property within the vicinity;
    (ix) Does not result in the off-street or on-street parking of more than two vehicles at any one time not owned by members of the occupant family; and
    (x) Does not involve any on-site retail sales or services.
    c. Prohibited Home Occupations
    The following are prohibited as Home Occupations:
    (i) Animal hospitals, stables, or kennels;
    (ii) Mortuaries;
    (iii) Private clubs;
    (iv) Repair shops;
    (v) Restaurants (excluding Bed and Breakfasts);
    (vi) Automobile or mechanical paint or repair shops;
    (vii) Doctor, dentist, veterinarian or other medically related office;
    (viii) Rooming/Boarding House;
    (ix) Barber shops and Beauticians.
    d. Home Day Care facilities will comply with the provisions found in Section 4.9(12).

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  6. #6
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    10,066
    Sole proprietors and contract employees, many of whom work from home, make up about a third of the workforce. By 2015 it has been estimated that this number could expand to 40 percent. And still, it does not include so-called hobby businesses that people may operate on the side. What percentage of these bothers to secore a home occupation permit? I would guess less than a quarter. Setting aside the question of whether the code is enforceable, why would you want to make it more difficult for many of these businesses to get started and operate, if they really have no impact on the neighborhood? Establish criteria related to appearance, employees, deliveries, activity, etc. If it complies, then nothing is needed. If there is an issue, then approach it as a conditional use.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Southeast US
    Posts
    540
    I think some are missing the point of my question.

    By requiring a Permit for every Home Occupation you are setting yourself up for failure in trying to locate all of those home businesses, and you will be accused of favoritism in the ones you can find vs the ones that you can't find.

    Second, it is a waste of city resources and staff time to try to find those businesses, and the fees you charge will not pay for the effort.

    Third, you are creating ill-will with your fellow citizens that are conducting small scale home business when it is so easy to give blanket approval to them provided they do not cause a nuisance.

    Fourth, fee colletion just shows government greed, and is contrary to encouraging small business entrepreneurship and success, especially when they are not creating a nuisance.


    Isn't it better to just allow such activity with a blanket permit by ordinance?

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    Jukin' City
    Posts
    17,027
    We play things pretty loose. If a property owner comes to the counter to inquire about a home occupation, we provide them a copy of the ordinance and ask them to acknowledge receipt and register the home occ. No fee. No license.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    209
    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    I think some are missing the point of my question.

    By requiring a Permit for every Home Occupation you are setting yourself up for failure in trying to locate all of those home businesses, and you will be accused of favoritism in the ones you can find vs the ones that you can't find.

    Second, it is a waste of city resources and staff time to try to find those businesses, and the fees you charge will not pay for the effort.

    Third, you are creating ill-will with your fellow citizens that are conducting small scale home business when it is so easy to give blanket approval to them provided they do not cause a nuisance.

    Fourth, fee colletion just shows government greed, and is contrary to encouraging small business entrepreneurship and success, especially when they are not creating a nuisance.


    Isn't it better to just allow such activity with a blanket permit by ordinance?
    The same could be said about amnesty for illegal immigrants.

    Moderator note:
    I'd assume you added this statement for amusement value, but this isn't the place for it. The Friday Afternoon Club has plenty of political discussion if you want to engage in such. Do refrain, however, from commenting in this fashion in a planning thread, because it really doesn't have a place here unless it is directly on topic. Thank you.

    Mastiff
    Last edited by Mastiff; 15 Jun 2011 at 12:36 PM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Southeast US
    Posts
    540
    Suburb Repairman said:

    a. A home occupation is that accessory use of a dwelling that shall constitute all or some portion of the livelihood of a person or persons living in the dwelling. The home occupation shall be clearly incidental to the residential use of the dwelling and shall not change the essential residential character of the dwelling or adversely affect the uses permitted in the district of which it is a part.
    I think this is a good provision: We allow up to 400 square feet or 25% of floor area, whichever is less. We would theoretically have to know how much is being used. You don't have to monitor that.

    Suburb Repairman said:

    b. Home occupations are permitted provided the occupation meets the following provisions:
    Another good point. Apparently it is allowed and without a permit. Is that correct? Again, you do not have to monitor the activity unless you get a complaint or one of the itemized provisions is violated.

    c. Prohibited Home Occupations:
    A third good point. Some home occupations generate a lot of complaints so you can just ban them outright!

    Thanks.
    Last edited by Streck; 15 Jun 2011 at 12:38 PM. Reason: spelling error

  11. #11
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,620
    Correct--we do not have a permit requirement.

    The only significant code enforcement issues we have encountered with it have been related to the prohibited uses, particularly repair shops being run out of someone's garage.

    Folks around here are actually pretty good about talking to us before opening a home-based business even though it is not required, mainly because we have a good relationship with the local Chamber of Commerce and economic development staff that consistently refer them to us. Like RJ, we play it pretty loose on this type of thing. We're also crafting a guidebook to opening a business in our city that will include a section on home-based businesses.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  12. #12
    So does this meanthat when I sit on my laptop and do sone consulting work before heading to my office that I'd be violating the law if I lived in your beautiful city? How about if idid an entire ptoject at home?

  13. #13
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2003
    Location
    at the neighboring pub
    Posts
    5,620
    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    So does this meanthat when I sit on my laptop and do sone consulting work before heading to my office that I'd be violating the law if I lived in your beautiful city? How about if idid an entire ptoject at home?
    Certainly not in the case of my city. As long as you meet the performance standards you are golden, and home-based consulting would be an easy fit.

    Side note: Our police department likes these home-based businesses. Most of the citizens of my city commute to the larger adjacent city, with my city being very much a bedroom suburb (we're working on that). As a result, many of the neighborhoods are somewhat empty during the day. Police chief views these home-based businesses as more daytime population and potential eyes on the street within the neighborhoods to reduce crime potential.

    "Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country."

    - Herman Göring at the Nuremburg trials (thoughts on democracy)

  14. #14
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Southeast US
    Posts
    540
    Gotta Speakup said:

    So does this meanthat when I sit on my laptop and do sone consulting work before heading to my office that I'd be violating the law if I lived in your beautiful city? How about if idid an entire ptoject at home?
    That would be true if you failed to get a Permit in any city that requires a Permit for a Home Occupation.

  15. #15
    Cyburbian ThePinkPlanner's avatar
    Registered
    Jul 2009
    Location
    South of Canada
    Posts
    347
    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    I think some are missing the point of my question.

    By requiring a Permit for every Home Occupation you are setting yourself up for failure in trying to locate all of those home businesses, and you will be accused of favoritism in the ones you can find vs the ones that you can't find.

    Second, it is a waste of city resources and staff time to try to find those businesses, and the fees you charge will not pay for the effort.

    Third, you are creating ill-will with your fellow citizens that are conducting small scale home business when it is so easy to give blanket approval to them provided they do not cause a nuisance.

    Fourth, fee colletion just shows government greed, and is contrary to encouraging small business entrepreneurship and success, especially when they are not creating a nuisance.


    Isn't it better to just allow such activity with a blanket permit by ordinance?
    In my own personal experience, none of this has applied. I don't believe we've set ourselves up for failure, I don't believe we have, by intention, action, or even accusation, participated in any favortism, nor do I think it has been a waste of city resources. We don't go around snooping for small businesses any more than we would for swimming pools or sheds, which many may also argue creates no nuisance. Maybe the fundamental debate here is not about home based businesses so much as it as about regulation in general.

    I live and work in Vermont. The priority placed on individual expression, enterprise, and the small business model is as strong here as it is anywhere in the country. We have one Wal-Mart in the state, and I hear we have the only state capitol without a McDonalds. And despite this identity, I've never encountered anybody who claimed the regulations we have are a burden to their ability to do small home-based business. And in this field, when people don't like things, you certainly hear of it.

    I can respect the fears. I just haven't seen, in my own experience, that it has been a problem.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
    Registered
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Georgia
    Posts
    209
    Quote Originally posted by Gotta Speakup View post
    So does this meanthat when I sit on my laptop and do sone consulting work before heading to my office that I'd be violating the law if I lived in your beautiful city? How about if idid an entire ptoject at home?
    Is your consulting work in relation to your employment (government or company that has a business license) or separate side job type stuff?

    If it is was a side job and you received revenue from this side job and pay taxes on that revenue (what state law mandates) then you'd need an occupational tax. The Georgia Department of Revenue has been very active in the last couple years tracking down businesses not paying their taxes and have been requesting copies of occupational tax receipt's collected by jurisdictions to ensure they are getting their share.

    Also, many banks will not allow you to open a business account and take advantage of their small business programs without a copy of a current business license/occupational tax. I have been told, haven't confirmed yet, that in order to get a tax i.d. you need to show proof of a business.

    Please note, my comment regarding amnesty and illegal immigration was purely for amusement purposes, hence the winky man.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian mike gurnee's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 1998
    Location
    Greensburg, Kansas
    Posts
    3,007
    There is a huge difference between home occupation permissions found in zoning codes, and business/occupation licenses. Zoning regulations are based on potential neighborhood impacts from the land use. Business/occupation licenses are for revenue. In an ideal world home occupations should be handled by the planning and zoning office; business licensing by the finance department.

    I had a utilities director who wanted a list of our home occupations. He wanted to charge them commercial rates. I don't want to ever go there, and I didn't.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
    Registered
    May 2005
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    6,420
    No business licenses.

    No home occupation permits.

    Just a special use permit if they exceed the home occupation standards.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  19. #19
    Cyburbian SW MI Planner's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Michigan
    Posts
    3,179
    Quote Originally posted by btrage View post
    No business licenses.

    No home occupation permits.
    Same here. We haven't had any huge issues with home occupations, but have considered requiring a license of some sort for income tax, assessing, and building purposes.

    FWIW, the city I which I previously worked also had no businesses licenses, and home occupations that had no customer traffic were permitted by right; those requiring customer traffic were permitted as a special use.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Raf's avatar
    Registered
    Feb 2007
    Location
    As far south of SoCal as I Will Go
    Posts
    5,458
    Quote Originally posted by RichmondJake View post
    We play things pretty loose. If a property owner comes to the counter to inquire about a home occupation, we provide them a copy of the ordinance and ask them to acknowledge receipt and register the home occ. No fee. No license.
    Exactly. If they ask, we tell them, they apply, and collect a fee. We don't go as the business license police trying to find anyone and everyone not operating with a license.. that is downright tough.
    follow me on the twitter @rcplans

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Southeast US
    Posts
    540
    Just a note here that of course Business Licenses are not Home Occupation Permits.

    "Businesses" of course are not allowed in Residential Zones, but Home Occupations are, provided that they do not exceed certain limitations.

    If Home Occupations do exceed certain limitations, they are not allowed to continue in Residential Zones, because they would be construed to be a Business operating in a Residential Zone, which is not permitted.
    Last edited by Streck; 16 Jun 2011 at 11:24 AM. Reason: corredted a spelling error

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
    Registered
    Aug 2001
    Location
    The Cheese State
    Posts
    10,066
    Quote Originally posted by ThePinkPlanner View post
    ...I've never encountered anybody who claimed the regulations we have are a burden to their ability to do small home-based business. And in this field, when people don't like things, you certainly hear of it...
    I would agree that most people who need to, and do apply for a home occupation permit, have little trouble in actually receiving it. At the same time, I strongly suspect that only a fraction of the people who do require one under your statute actually go through the trouble of getting it. Most simply ignore the requirement.

    The question to me is why any municipality would want to burden an entrepreneur or small business owner with the task of getting a permit if the use that will have no impact on the neighborhood and a majority of the population ignores the statute. Why make them spenf a couple hours or more filing the application and pay yet another fee to the government. Making most home occupations a "by right" use, with limitations, is a far more business-friendly approach that also reduces the amount of work that city staff need to complete. Both of these are positive outcomes.
    Anyone want to adopt a dog?

  23. #23
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Southeast US
    Posts
    540
    I would like to do a poll here to see how many agree that Home Occupations should be allowed by out-right use (as you would define it in your code) (in order to reduce administrative workload) rather than have a formal Permit process.

    But apparently I am not allowed to post a poll, or I don't know how. Would somebody else who thinks a poll on this might be useful, please post one?

    Suggested Poll:

    Should Home Occupations (as you would define them in your code) be allowed outright without a formal Permit process?

    1. Yes
    2. No
    3. Yes, with certain code modifications.
    4. Unsure - see comments (if any).


    Note: For poll purposes it would be assumed that any activity that violated your Home Occupations limits (such as signs, etc) would not be allowed, and violations could be pursued as any code violation.

    Moderator note:

    Good idea. Poll added based on your request, with modifications.

    Suburb Repairman
    Last edited by Suburb Repairman; 20 Jun 2011 at 2:45 PM.

  24. #24
    Cyburbian Fat Cat's avatar
    Registered
    Nov 2006
    Location
    Rockwood, MI
    Posts
    1,469

    Fat Cat

    First I would think that we would have to define if we are talking zoning, permits, and or licensing. Entirely different subjects. Then look at case law. Set your definitions for zoning. Set your definitions for licensing. Keep in mind that licensing is not normally a taxing venue like permits and is often used for activities not involving land use.. Licenses are typically to proctect the public and can be revoked and or suspended or denied witha due process. Typical licenses are liquor, cab drivers, mobile vendors (not the carts or vehicle but a criminal background on the individual) These are just couple of examples
    If it is revenue process than if they meet the criteria the fee is paid. Now this will depend on case law for your area.
    I dont think that this a simple issue

    If it is strickly a home use then land use or zoning should be considered --parking traffic, signage etc. If a revenue permit is being considered than land use and a fee process. But again case law should be looked at.

    Interesting concept -- I have worked with both in different areas

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
    Registered
    Jun 2002
    Location
    Southeast US
    Posts
    540
    I think in earlier posts we have decided that we are not talking about business licensing, which is regulated by the city under other specific regulations, and which requires a license and must be in a Commercial Zone.

    We are talking about allowing Home Occupations by right without requiring a Home Occupation Permit (provided they do not display signs or create nuisances, etc.).

+ Reply to thread
Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

More at Cyburbia

  1. Home occupations: lawn mowing
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 13
    Last post: 04 Dec 2009, 12:46 PM
  2. Replies: 8
    Last post: 18 Apr 2007, 11:34 AM
  3. Replies: 61
    Last post: 09 Aug 2006, 9:30 PM
  4. Discuss...Home Occupations
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 8
    Last post: 26 May 2004, 6:26 PM
  5. Uses Planning for home occupations
    Land Use and Zoning
    Replies: 0
    Last post: 18 Oct 1996, 11:05 PM