Ready. Set. Permit!

4 Reasons You’ll Need a City Permit or Inspection

Most businesses will need a permit at some point in their lifespan. Unfortunately, many businesses make important decisions without understanding which permits/inspections will be triggered and how much time/money will be involved.

When might you need a permit? Which ones will be required? Read the list below, then visit our Tools page for City resources that can help you through the process.

#1:  Moving to a New Location

Moving to a new location can trigger  a number of requirements. Before you sign a lease or purchase agreement, be sure to verify zoning for the new location, by contacting the Planning Division or going to the zoning portal at Next, contact Fire Prevention to find out whether you’ll need to install sprinklers, get equipment inspected, or account for hazardous waste. Then check with the Wastewater Division, especially if your business relates to food or beverages. Finally, be sure to apply for a business license, even if you’re an existing Petaluma business moving to a new location within the city limits.

Petaluma Beer Garden

#2: Making Changes Inside or Outside a Building

You might need a Site Plan & Architectural Review (SPAR) if you are planning to modify a building exterior or when new buildings or site modifications are proposed. Even if you don’t need a SPAR, you will likely need Building Permits, which are required for almost all installations, plumbing, and electrical work.

photo of warehouse business financing

#3:  Installing Machinery, Equipment, or High Pile Storage Racks

Any machine or piece of equipment that is bolted to the wall, the ceiling, or the floor must meet California’s strict energy efficiency and fire/earthquake safety requirements. High pile storage racks, large tanks, and commercial kitchen hoods and ducts are also affected by these requirements.

Contact the Building and Fire Prevention Divisions before you purchase any piece of machinery or equipment, especially if it’s been made outside of the United States or has been purchased second-hand.

#4: Working with Hazardous Materials—including Soda Machines

Hazardous materials are everything from bio-waste to chemicals to the carbon dioxide used in large soda dispensers. Hazardous materials require a permit and a business plan handled by the Fire Prevention team.

Note that quantity matters as much as type. Any hazardous materials (in aggregate) greater than 55 gallons (liquid), 200 cubic feet (gas), or 500 pounds (solid); or any quantity of hazardous waste requires inclusion in the State-mandated CUPA program.

For more information contact the Fire Prevention Bureau at (707) 778-4389.

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