City Council to consider temporarily loosening some rules for running businesses from home

Some small-business proprietors are working to stay afloat by moving operations into their homes, at least temporarily. But certain city rules can get in the way. So the City Council is considering CB 120001, titled “Bringing Business Home.” This was noted during this morning’s just-concluded weekly council briefing meeting, with an explanation that under current rules, if somebody files a complaint against a business that’s operating at home, the city doesn’t have the option to not pursue it, so this bill would loosen the rules that often lead to complaints. From today’s announcement:

The requirements that would be suspended are:

*Customer visits are by appointment only
*There is no evidence of the home-based business visible from the exterior of the structure
*No more than two persons who are not residents of the building may work in a home-based business
*The home-based business shall not cause a substantial increase in on-street parking congestion or a substantial increase in traffic within the immediate vicinity
Home-based businesses would also be allowed to operate in a house’s off-street parking stall or garage and have one non-illuminated sign with the business name if it is not larger than 720 square inches.

To be clear, city rules already allow home-based businesses, but the conditions for operation are stringent, and this would loosen some of them, for the next year (unless extended). You can read the full text of the proposal here; it will be considered in the Land Use and Neighborhoods Committee at 9:30 am this Wednesday (February 24th) – we’ll link the agenda when it’s out – with a full council vote likely on March 15th.

7 Replies to "City Council to consider temporarily loosening some rules for running businesses from home"

  • Jort February 22, 2021 (1:24 pm)

    Wait, I thought the City Council was “anti-small business” and was “killing businesses in Seattle” and “Seattle is dying” and all that garbage. I’m confused.

    • Lisa February 22, 2021 (4:22 pm)

      @Jort – one year later and they think of this? Small businesses are not exactly their priority.

    • AMD February 22, 2021 (5:35 pm)

      This is specifically in response to the Yonder Cider incident, which was stupid and shouldn’t be allowed to happen ever, pandemic or not.  The guy that got that place shut down routinely parks his car sticking out past his driveway, blocking part of the sidewalk, so it’s clear just how much of that nonsense was about access.  Re: this legislation, I’m glad they’re loosening rules, I hope they stay looser even when the pandemic’s over, but the vagueness of the language about parking congestions guarantees that NIMBYs will still be able to file complaints and single-handedly get home-based businesses shut down when they’re having a bad day.  Business owners have no control over how much parking there is nearby to begin with, or whether or not their customers choose to listen when the owner encourages them to walk up instead of drive.

      • Chemist February 23, 2021 (7:24 am)

        I think the city has an issue if they’re creating a “only residents can drive here to access their homes” stay healthy street at the same time the city is also permitting new home businesses that expect to generate more traffic to homes on that same block.  Maybe the home business on a stay healthy street should be required to offer off-street parking nearby and direct customers to that parking?  Maybe stay healthy streets need to be approved only after evaluation of the parking needs of home businesses on that block?

  • Midi February 22, 2021 (2:51 pm)

    Yes, this is needed! Anything we can do to support our community and small businesses should be a top priority. I want some cider     

  • WS Taxpayer February 23, 2021 (8:13 am)

    I can honestly say I would be less than pleased if my neighbor had what constitutes a bar in their garage at it every. single. day.  I like bars as much (or more) than the next guy, but there is a place for them, and that place isn’t a typical neighborhood with families and pets and naps and early bed times.    

  • Huck February 24, 2021 (2:13 pm)

    City council must keep up the appearance of caring about small businesses. Well played city council!

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