Home Occupation Procedure
What is a home occupation? The City of Torrance defines it as the secondary use of a person's own residence for a business activity carried on for profit.
Why does the City regulate home occupations? To establish standards and requirements for the conduct of home businesses in order to protect the residential quality, peace, health, safety and general welfare of the properties and neighborhoods which surround residences with home occupations.
How do I apply to the City to operate a home business? As of July 31, 1998, the required procedure has been simplified and the cost reduced by the City in order to better serve you.
- Come to the Community Development Department at City Hall, 3031 Torrance Boulevard, between the hours of 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on the closed Fridays which occur every other week. You can call the Community Development Department at (310) 618-5990 to verify closed Fridays.
- Obtain a Business License Supplemental Form for Home Occupations. This form asks for your name, address and phone number; a brief description of your proposed business; your initials declaring that a home occupation is not a violation of any rental agreement or any homeowner association's Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&Rs) which might apply to the property; and your signature declaring that your home business is consistent with the mandatory conditions, which are listed below. The penalty for any violation of the mandatory conditions is also stated on the application.
- You can apply for this Business License Supplemental Form right over the Community Development Department counter. Most applicants who meet the conditions can proceed directly to the Business License Division of the Finance Department to apply for a business license. This streamlined procedure also eliminates the previous Community Development Department fee for home occupations. You will need to pay only the fee associated with the business license itself.
Standards and Requirements
Home occupations must be conducted in accordance with the following standards and requirements:
- The use of the property must be a residence, and the home occupation will be clearly incidental and secondary and will not change its residential character;
- The home occupation must not involve the use of more than one (1) room in the dwelling, or the equivalent of twenty (20) percent of the total floor area of the living area of the main residence, whichever is greater. This space may be located within the main residence or in a permitted accessory building. The garage parking area may not be used for the operation of the home occupation, except in the case of a third car garage, a permitted accessory room attached to the garage, or work areas outside of the required parking area within a garage. If two home occupations exist within a single residence, the combined space devoted to the occupations may not exceed the above limitations;
- All activity must be conducted inside the residence or a permitted, enclosed accessory structure, with the exception of the parking of an allowable vehicle;
- The inventory, supplies, equipment and tools for a home occupation must not be more than twenty-five (25) percent of the allowable area involved in the home occupation and must be stored entirely within a permitted, enclosed building or within an allowable vehicle;
- No structural alterations of the premises may be made when related to the home occupation, except those consistent with the residential character of the dwelling;
- No person other than the residents may be employed on the premises in connection with the home occupation. Any other employees must meet the home occupation operator at the off-site job location and may not leave from or arrive at the home occupation operator's residence to start or end the workshift or workday;
- No customers may come to the home occupation residence. All in-person contact must take place at an off-site location such as the customer's residence or place of business. The only exception will be a student arriving to a home occupation residence for the sole purpose of one-on-one music or arts instruction or academic tutoring. Music and arts instruction will be allowed only between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., daily. Academic tutoring will be allowed only between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., daily;
- The home occupation must be in conformance with the City noise ordinance, Section 46.7.2 (Division 4, Chapter 6, Article 7);
- The home occupation must not produce odor, dust, vibration, fumes, smoke, or electrical interference. The home occupation may not involve hazardous processes or materials beyond the nature and quantity normally associated with residential use. The home occupation is subject to inspection by the Fire Department to the same extent as a commercial premises to ensure compliance with this condition;
- The home occupation may not involve the use of power driven equipment, except electric motors of up to one-half (1/2) horsepower capacity each;
- Deliveries at the home occupation residence by large commercial semi-trucks will be prohibited, but deliveries of parcels and small packages by delivery vans will be permissible;
- Only one vehicle that is used primarily for the home occupation may be parked or stored on or near the home occupation property. That vehicle may display a sign that includes the name of the business;
- No sign or display identifying the home occupation may be visible from the exterior of the premises, except that on a permitted vehicle;
- Advertisements that are displayed in any media, including telephone directories, may not give the street address of the home occupation location;
- There will be a limit of two home occupations per residence and each home occupation must have a business license. Business licenses will be non-transferable;
- The applicant agrees to make the premises available for inspection by the City Manager, or his/her designee, at all reasonable times and without an inspection warrant for the purpose of assuring compliance with the requirements of this Article.