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Economic Development FAQs

What is a business license inspection and how do I schedule one?

As part of the business license process, the City’s Fire Prevention and Building Divisions need to inspect your business to ensure that you business meets minimum requirements for safety and emergency access. To schedule a business license inspection, call (707) 781-1201 or send email to bizcheck@cityof petaluma.org.

You can prepare for the inspection by reviewing this checklist of items.

How much is the business tax in Petaluma?

For the first year, the City assesses business taxes based on the type of business. After the first year, the taxes are assessed based on the business’s gross receipts. Refer to the Business Certificate Fees Chart to determine your tax obligations. These taxes are collected during the business certificate application or renewal process. Contact the Finance Division or call 707-778-4354 for assistance.

What is a zoning check?

The City’s Zoning Ordinance is the set of rules that describes what types of activities are allowed within the City, where these activities can occur, and how physical structures can be developed or changed to accommodate these activities. Before you sign a lease/purchase agreement or commit to a project, consult with the City’s Planning Division for a “zoning check” to confirm whether your project is allowed and to identify requirements and limitations.

Do I need a permit to operate a vacation or short-term rental?

Yes. The City requires a Business Certificate, a special permit, and payment of Transient Occupancy Taxes (TOT). See the Short Term Rental Checklist for requirements, instructions, and forms.

How do I start a home-based business?

Home-based businesses require a business certificate and a home occupation permit that must be approved by the Planning Division and renewed annually. This process ensures that neighborhoods are protected from the impacts of commercial activities.

How do I start a cannabis business?

The City of Petaluma regulates the types of cannabis businesses and requires an annual permit and review by the Police Department. Learn more and download the permit application at https://petalumastar.com/cannabis-business/.

Do I need a business license and how do I get one?

Every business that is located in or doing business within the City limits is required to obtain a business certificate (often referred to as a business license) from the City and pay appropriate business tax. The application review process takes about six weeks and requires a Safety Inspection (see checklist). See the Business Certificate Fees Chart and download the application form and instructions to start.

What permits do I need to start or expand a business?

It depends on the type of business and the location you’ve chosen. Use the online permit scoping tool at petaluma.opencounter.com to scope out the permits and fees. 

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