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A Guide to Opening a Business in Westminster
What Kind of Approvals or Permits Will I Need To Start or Expand My Business?
Of course, this will depend upon the type of business, the location and whether you will be leasing an existing space or building a new one. The following items will help you determine what level of approvals and permits you will need.
Business Licenses: Anyone doing business in the City of Westminster must obtain a business license, including home occupations. Some types of businesses also require a Police Permit. The Business License Tax is based on gross receipts.
Food and Alcohol Sales: Businesses involving food preparation and service must meet Health Department requirements, and those serving or selling alcoholic beverages must obtain permits through the Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC). ABC contact number is (714) 558-4101.
Conditional Use Permits: There are many uses within a zone that require the approval of a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). These are approved by the Planning Commission, and can include special conditional placed on the operation of the business, such as hours of operation. Some examples of businesses requiring a CUP are auto repair, video arcades, motels, and businesses serving alcohol and/or providing entertainment. You should speak with the Planning Division about fees and the length of the approval process before signing a lease. A CUP stays with the business location, which means a business can be sold or transferred with the approved CUP.
Alarm Permit: In order to reduce the number of false alarms and preserve police resources, Ordinance Nos. 2458 & 2460 were adopted. The Westminster City Council ordained that anyone responsible for the operation of or in possession of an alarm system in the City of Westminster will be required to obtain a permit for operation of such a system.
Home Business Permit: Only certain types of businesses may be operated in residential zones. Please check with the Planning Division before getting started. A home business permit and business license may be obtained for certain types of home businesses as long as they do not generate vehicular or pedistrian traffic, deliveries to the residence, employees and/or customers, or manufacturing of a product. Only one room in the home may be used for the business. A word processing business where clients are met off-site is a good example of a permitted home business. An application may be obtained through the Planning Division.
New and Existing Signs: Whether you are planning signs for a new business, or would like to change or increase your existing signs, you must first obtain approval and sign permits from the City's Building and Planning Divisions. The City's zoning code and design standards contain specific information, as such, many shopping centers have approved sign programs and parameters. Before buying any signs, or modifying existing signs, please speak with your property manager, as well as the City's Building and Planning Divisions to review the regulations.
Temporary Signs: While your signs are in the process of being approved by the City, or under construction, the City will allow you to install a temporary banner to identify your business. Temporary banners may also be used to advertise a sale, grand opening, or other special event associated with the business. Temporary sign permits are allowed for up to ninety (90) days per calendar year. A temporary sign permit must be obtained for each separate sale or event. To ensure public safety, temporary signs must be mounted to the building. Temporary sign pemits may be obtained by visiting the Planning Division at City Hall.
Balloons, Inflatable Devices, Outdoor Displays and Parking Lot Sales: Balloons, flags, sidewalk or lawn signs, human signs, and other types of portable signs are not permitted. Outdoor display of merchandise is limited to three items per business. The use of an inflatable device, such as a large animal, requires a Special Advertising Permit and must meet certain criteria to be approved by the Planning Commission. If you wish to apply for a permit, you should allow approximately ten (10) weeks prior to your event to ensure adequate time for the approval process.