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Zoning and Use Permits

The process for getting your business up and running with all the required permits and approvals can vary, depending on factors such as your business type, location, and the tenant improvements you plan to make.  Before you sign a lease or announce an opening date, we encourage you to check in with staff from the City's Planning Department.  Planning staff work closely with other City departments and other agencies, so they can be helpful in identifying various requirements that may apply to your business.  Even home-based businesses have certain regulations.

Planning staff will be able to determine if your planned use and location comply with zoning regulations (view the zoning map), and can give you guidance about any planning reviews or permit applications that may be needed.  Special requirements may apply to chain stores and franchises under the City's formula business ordinance.  If you find out that the zoning for your location does not allow the kind of business you wish to open, the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce may be able to suggest other locations.

Certain kinds of businesses may require a conditional use permit (CUP). CUP applications are reviewed by the Planning Commission, which meets monthly.  Planning staff can outline the process for you, and based on their experience, may be able to give insights about potential issues with your application.  If any kind of approval or permit is needed in order to comply with the Zoning Ordinance, be sure to make the lease or purchase of property for your business contingent upon these approvals. Ask City staff what information they will need from you, the approximate fees you can expect, and the estimated timeline.   

It's also a good idea to check in with Building Department staff if you're planning any Commercial Building Improvements.

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