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Starting a Business in Pacifica

Start a Business

City staff is looking forward to helping you establish your business in Pacifica and providing you with information about licensing, permit requirements, City services and regulations. This information is intended to help you get started. For more information you may wish to visit the City’s website at:

Planning and Research

Starting a new business, trade or occupation in the City of Pacifica requires issuance of a business license and, depending on the location and type of business, may require issuance of one or more City of Pacifica permits.

Although most types of licenses/permits will take no more than a few weeks to process, please begin your research early as some types of permits may take several months to obtain.

A list of the types of businesses that may require additional permits is provided on the last page of this handout.

Pacifica Municipal PierFor further assistance you may contact the Planning Department at:

Planning Department
1800 Francisco Blvd.
Pacifica, CA 94044
Phone: (650) 738-7341
Fax: (650) 359-5807

Street Music in the Rockaway Beach NeighborhoodThe North County Fire Authority (Pacifica’s fire department) may have license/permit requirements that must be met prior to opening your business. Associated fees may apply. You may contact them at:

North County Fire Authority
10 Wembley Drive
Daly City, CA 94015
Phone: (650) 991-8138

Other regulatory agencies may also have license/permit requirements that must be met prior to opening your business.  Some agencies that may have license /permit requirements include:

North Coast County Water District
2400 Francisco Boulevard
Pacifica, CA 94044
Phone: (650) 355-3462
           San Mateo County Environmental Health
2000 Alameda de las Pulgas, Suite 100
San Mateo, CA 94403
Phone: (650) 372-6200

Sharp Park Golf CourseSan Francisco Bay Regional Water
Quality Control Board
1515 Clay Street, Suite 1400     
Oakland, CA 94612      
Phone: (510) 622-2300     


Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control
1515 Clay Street, Ste. 2208
Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (415) 356-6500
           Bay Area Air Quality Management District
939 Ellis St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
Phone: (415) 771-6000

Choosing a Location

Before you relocate your business, sign a lease, purchase a commercial building or begin operating a business from your home, please check with the City of Pacifica’s Planning Department to determine if the location you are considering meets the City’s land use regulations and to assess potential Planning Department permit needs.

If the Planning Department determines that one or more planning permit is needed, you will be provided with additional information about permit needs and procedures.

In the case of businesses with multiple locations, each location shall be considered separately. If you plan to engage in commerce in the public right-of-way, such as a public street or sidewalk, you should contact the City’s Engineering Division for assistance:

Sanchez Adobe Historic SiteEngineering Division
151 Milagra Drive
Pacifica, CA 94044
Phone: 650-738-3767
Fax: 650-738-3003

Obtaining a Business License:

If no other City permit(s) is needed, or once any necessary permit(s) has been issued, you may apply for a business license. Business licenses are issued through the City’s Finance Department.

Pacifica Farmer's MarketFinance Department
170 Santa Maria Avenue
Pacifica, CA 94044
Phone: 650-738-7392
Fax: (650) 738-7411

Each applicant must:

  • Complete the business license application form
  • Pay the requisite license fee
  • Pass mandatory inspections (see following section for more information)

Pacifica Farmer's MarketIf there is more than one business location, separate applications must be filed for each location. Similarly, if more than one business operates at one location, each business must have a separate business license. A new license is needed for changes in location and all businesses licenses must be renewed annually.

Receipt for payment is not a business license—the license will only be issued once all necessary inspections are conducted and passed, and all relevant City departments or outside agencies have approved the business license request.

Online Registration and Renewal

Business Licenses can also be applied for or renewed through our Online Business License Portal.


Inspections (fees may apply) by one or more City department or outside agency may be necessary prior to issuance of a business license. The types of inspections needed depend on various factors such as the type of business and degree of building construction/modification to be conducted. Following are examples of types of inspections that may be needed:

  • Police inspects businesses such as massage establishments, taxi companies and amusement arcades
  • Fire conducts inspections for all businesses other than home offices
  • Planning and Building may conduct inspections related to locations of uses on private property and whenever a building permit is required
  • Wastewater may conduct inspections for certain types of businesses requiring sewer connections such as restaurants and vehicle services
  • Engineering inspects activities associated with use of the public right-of-way, such as public streets or sidewalks
  • San Mateo County Environmental Health inspects businesses that engage in handling sensitive materials such as food and hazardous substances

Additional Resources:

Pacifica Chamber of Commerce
225 Rockaway Beach Blvd. #1
Pacifica, CA 94044
Phone: (650) 355-4122
           Pacifica Police Department
2075 Coast Hwy
Pacifica, CA 94044-3038
Phone: 650-738-7314

Pacifica Wastewater

700 Coast Highway
Pacifica, CA 94044
Phone: 650-738-4660
Fax: 650-355-7256
US Small Business Administration
409 3rd St. SW
Washington DC 20416
Phone: 800-827-5722

San Mateo Public Library
Small Business Resource Center
(must have a San Mateo County library card)

Businesses Subject to Additional Permit Requirements

Public Art at Linda Mar BeachThe following list includes examples of types of businesses that may require permits from one or more City department(s) prior to issuance of a business license:

  • Restaurants
  • Auto-related services
  • Home Offices
  • Conditionally permitted uses within the zoning district where the business will be located (contact Planning Department to obtain zoning information)
  • Businesses located west of Highway 1
  • Businesses involving outdoor activities (e.g. outdoor seating at service establishments, outdoor materials storage, etc.) 
  • Businesses involving any type of construction
  • Retail alcohol sales 
  • Veterinary/pet care establishments
  • Medical offices
  • Taxi services
  • Therapeutic massage establishments
  • Cannabis Business
  • Any business that involves the use/storage of hazardous materials

Checklist for Business Owners

For more information please visit