Starting a New Business

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All new businesses to the City, including existing businesses that are changing the business name, ownership, type of use, or location within the City, require a Certificate of Occupancy. New businesses who will be sharing a space with an existing business will also need to apply for a Certificate of Occupancy. If you're operating a new business at your home, you are required to apply for a Home Occupation Permit.

The City of Alhambra zoning ordinances regulate the use of land within the City to protect the character and stability of residential, business, commercial and manufacturing areas. Prior to choosing a site, please contact the Planning Division at 626-570-5034 or during counter hours (Monday through Thursday, 7:00 am to 12:00 pm, or 1:30 pm to 5:00 pm) to determine if the desired business location you are considering is zoned for your business. If the address meets the zoning requirements for the intended use, you'll be required to apply for a Certificate of Occupancy, or Home Occupation Permit if you're operating a business at your home. All businesses are required to obtain authorization from the property owner to conduct a business at the property. The property owner is required to sign and notarize the Property Owner Authorization of Use form, which needs to be submitted with the Certificate of Occupancy or Home Occupation Permit Applications. All businesses will also need to apply for a Business License at the Finance Department after applying for a Certificate of Occupancy or Home Occupation Permit.


How to Start a Business in Alhambra

Starting a Business- Entity Types

Select a business entity type from the following list for a brief overview of the principal types of legal business structures available in California.  Private legal and tax advisors should be consulted before making a determination as to the type of business entity to form.

For more questions regarding the Certificate of Occupancy or Home Occupation Permit, please contact the Economic Development Division at 626-570-5038.


  • Submittal of a Certificate of Occupancy to the Community Development Department, Economic Development Division is the first step in the review and approval process. Please email your completed Certificate of Occupancy application and Property Owner Authorization of Use form to Janette Alvarez at, or fax to 626-458-4201.
  • The Certificate of Occupancy will be reviewed by the Planning Division to determine whether the proposed business conforms to the zoning regulations. The Building Division will then review the application to determine if any building permits may be needed for planned interior or exterior changes to the property.
  • If your proposed business location meets the zoning requirements, you will be required to pay the fee for the Certificate of Occupancy in the amount of $243.
  • Building and fire inspections will be required. You will be provided with the telephone numbers to call and schedule your inspections.
  • The Certificate of Occupancy will be issued once all inspections are completed and approved.  
  • Guide to Obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy

Click image for downloadable PDF.


  • Submit the application for a Home Occupancy Permit to the Community Development Department, Economic Development Division for review to ensure that the type of business is permitted in your home. 
  • The fee for the Home Occupation Permit is $47.50. The fee is only paid if the Home Occupation Permit application is approved.
  • A home business does not require building and fire inspections. 
  • The Home Occupation Permit will be issued after the Home Occupation Permit fee is paid.
  • Guide to Obtaining a Home Occupation Permit

Operating Standards

The standards for home occupations listed in the Informational Guide are intended to ensure that the proposed business retains the residential environment of the property and is compatible with the residential character of the neighborhood. They must be operated at all times consistent with these regulations and not interfere with the peace and quiet of the neighborhood.  In addition, the home site and business must be maintained and conducted according to all laws of the city and state, including, but not limited to health, structural soundness, fire safety, and zoning.

Click image for downloadable PDF.

Factors to consider when starting a new business:

  • Determine if the space is adequate for current needs and foreseeable growth. Investigate traffic patterns; tour the building; find out who the previous tenant was and why they left. Evaluate the physical location and if the space is a good fit for your product line. Be realistic and don't over-commit.
  • Identify competitors - check out neighboring businesses for complementary products and/or services. Is there an established cluster economy?
  • Seek professional assistance - hire a real estate attorney who specializes in lease negotiations who understands your area and type of business.
  • Identify your responsibilities - determine if you will need to maintain the heating, air-conditioning and other systems, as well as keep up the parking lot and building exterior.
  • Affordability - determine if the rent will be affordable.

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Utilities Customer Services Center

The Utilities Customer Service Center is available to serve you when you need to establish or turn off your water service, make a payment, or arrange for a field inspection.

Hours:  Monday - Thursday, 7:00 am - 12:00 pm.  Afternoon appointments are available.  Please call 625-570-5061 to schedule a meeting. The Center is closed on Fridays, holidays and weekends.  Free parking is available in the adjacent First Street parking structure.

New and Renewal of Existing Business Licenses

If you're a new business or a business that needs to renew a business license, please contact the Alhambra Finance Department at 626-570-5021 to find out how to apply for a business license.

Food & Beverage Permit and Alcohol Permit for New/Existing Food Establishments

If your business is a restaurant, you will be required to contact the Alcoholic Beverage Control and Los Angeles County Health Department, in addition to City approvals.

State Alcoholic Beverage Control Board, 213-736-2005

Los Angeles County Health Department, 310-665-8450

 Permits, Licenses, & Applications

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