The following items should be taken into consideration when doing business in the City of Pacifica.
Visit the business license division of the City of Pacifica's Finance Department before you begin operating your business. The license division will identify whether your type of business needs a city license or permit. Most businesses will need a city license, including nonprofit organizations.
Fictitious Business Name Registrations
Your competition could use your name if you don't register it. Or someone who has registered the name before may dispute your right to use it. You must file a fictitious business name statement if, for example, you call your business "John Smith Studios" or "John Smith, CPA". However, you are not required to register if you use just your own name as your business, such as "John Smith". Follow the below steps to register a fictitious business name:
- At the San Mateo County Clerk's Office, search the Fictitious Business Names Indices that lists all the fictitious business names registered with the county clerk.
- Search the volumes for the past five years to make sure that no one else has registered your intended business name.
- Fill out the statement form and submit it to the county clerk's office.
- Publish your fictitious business name statement in a newspaper within 30 days after filing the statement.
County Clerk's Office, Special Services
401 Marshall Street, 6th Floor
Redwood City, CA 94063
Before finalizing your business location, be sure to check with the planning department to determine whether you're allowed to conduct business at that location. This applies even if you plan to do business out of your home. Whether you have a specific address or just a general neighborhood location in mind, the planning staff will be able to tell you whether your type of business will be permitted.
If you commit yourself to a space you can't use under the zoning regulations, you can lose your rent deposit and any improvements you may have made. Your neighbors and other businesses near your location may complain and you could be forced to leave. A city inspector could determine that you're operating a business illegally and require closure.
If you are planning to place a sign on the exterior of your business, you need a sign permit. Regulations regarding the types of signs and their placement are covered in the city's sign ordinance and must be approved by the planning administrator.
The sign permit application requires the business owner or the sign contractor to submit drawings indicating the advertising message, location, dimensions, construction, electrical wiring/components and method of attachment.
Security Alarm Permits
If you install a security alarm in either your place of business or a residential building in the City of Pacifica, you are required to submit an application for an alarm permit (along with a one-time fee of $75 payable to "City of Pacifica") to the city's police department to the attention of the communications supervisor (2075 Coast Hwy in Pacifica). Having your alarm information on file with the police department aids in apprehending potential theft and identifying false alarms.
Building & Alteration Permits
If modifying or improving the physical space your business occupies, you must apply for a building permit with the city's building division. Fees vary, depending on the type and size of construction. A building permit is required if you intend to:
- Construct a building
- Make improvements or alterations to your business
- Move or demolish a building
- Roof or re-roof your business
- Make or alter electrical, plumbing or heating installations to existing systems
- Install a fence over six feet (6') tall or a retaining wall
Detailed drawings need to be submitted with your application. Your application is then reviewed by the building official and other appropriate divisions and departments. When you submit your plans, you will be told approximately when the plan check process will be completed and a permit issued. You could be penalized and required to undo construction if you do not obtain a permit beforehand. Allow sufficient time for permit processing and construction before scheduling your business opening.