Starting a Business

Welcome to Laguna Beach! We are pleased that you are considering Laguna Beach for the location of your business. The following information is provided to answer some of the questions you may have regarding the various steps in starting a business in the City. The City also has a designated Business Liaison who can answer questions that are not addressed in this information guide.

General Links

Click here to download: How to Obtain a Business License in the City of Laguna Beach.
Click here to download: Laguna Beach Business License Application.

Click logo below to visit the Small Business Administration website.
SBA.GOV site - U.S Small Business Administration

Creating a business plan is one of the most important steps in starting a business.
Click
here to create your own business plan today.

FAQs About Starting a Business in Laguna Beach

Do I need a business license?

Yes. A business license is required for all businesses that are located within the City. Applications can be obtained from the cashier's desk at City Hall. (Business license questions may also be answered between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday by calling (949) 497-0733.)

How do I determine if my business is allowed at the location that I have selected?

The City's Zoning Ordinance permits certain types of businesses in specific areas of the City. Planning staff will assist you at the Planning Counter in determining an appropriate location for your business. For example, some businesses (uses) in various zoning districts require a Conditional Use Permit. (Additional Information Guides that describe the various City land use review and approval processes, including the Conditional Use Permit process, are available at the Planning Counter.)

Planning staff is available at the Planning Counter Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 12:00 p.m and again from 1:00 p.m until 5:00 p.m. You may also contact a planner by telephone at (949) 497-0713, between 8:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Is city approval required to make minor improvements to the tenant space I want to locate my business in?

Most tenant improvements, ranging from simple improvements to more complex improvements, require City building permits. You may obtain additional information regarding building permits from the Building Counter, and/or by obtaining the Building Permit Information guide.

(The Building Counter is open Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.. You may also contact Building Permit staff by telephone at (949) 497-0715).

Does the city have sign regulations that are applicable to my business?

Yes. Laguna Beach has a sign ordinance that governs all signs. Planning staff will assist you at the Planning Counter to determine the sign standards applicable to your business site, building and/or suite. You may also contact planning staff by telephone for information regarding the City's sign standards.

What permits, other than a business license, are required to open a restaurant?

Any business serving food requires an Orange County health permit and inspection. Contact the Orange County Health Care Agency at (949) 497-0734 for related information. A liquor license is required if you intend to sell/serve alcoholic beverages.

What permits do I need to sell alcoholic beverages for on-site or off-site consumption?

A license is required to sell alcoholic beverages for either on-site (restaurant) or off- site (liquor store) consumption. Contact the California Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control (ABC) at (714) 558- 4101 for an application or additional information. A Conditional Use Permit is required by the City prior to allowing the sale of alcoholic beverages for on-site or off- site consumption. City planning staff will assist you with the Conditional Use Permit application process.

What city regulations apply to operating a business within my home?

An application for a Home Occupation Permit must be submitted in conjunction with a Business License application. Planning staff can answer questions regarding the zoning regulations applicable to the type of business that you are proposing to operate from your home.

The Process

Step 1:

  • Zoning compliance - Planning staff will assist you at the Planning Counter in determining if the location you are considering for your business is zoned for that particular use. A planner will also advise you of any approvals that are required prior to starting your business (a Conditional Use Permit, for example). Planning staff is also available by telephone Monday through Friday at (949) 497-0713.

Step 2:

  • Business License Application - Once you have determined that the location you have selected for your business complies with the City's zoning requirements, and you have obtained all necessary approvals, you can apply for a business license at the Cashier's desk in City Hall. Business license questions may also be answered by calling (949) 497-0733. Click Here to download: Laguna Beach Business License Application in PDF format.

Step 3:

  • Tenant improvements - If you are proposing interior or exterior construction improvements, you or your contractor can apply for building permits at the Building Counter at City Hall. Exterior construction improvements, including painting, usually require Design Review Board approval. (An Information Guide that describes the Design Review Board review and approval process is available at the Planning Counter.) You may also call (949) 497-0715 with questions regarding building permits.

Step 4:

  • Signs - Planning staff will advise you of the sign standards applicable to your business location. Most signs require Design Review Board approval.