Starting a Business

We know opening, expanding, or relocating a business is challenging, with no shortage of details, questions, and uncertainty. Among these are the City permits you may need to open your doors. This page provides an overview of things to keep in mind as you plan for your new (or moved) business.

Business License

Every business operating in the City requires a business license, which is issued by the State of WA. If you have questions about business licensing please contact Economic Development & Outreach Coordinator Brady Begin.


Certain businesses are not permitted in all areas of the City. To learn whether your intended business location is zoned for your proposed business, or if you have any questions about home occupations, signs, or building permits, please contact Brooke Eidem.
  • Home Occupation.

    If you are operating your business out of your home, you will need to ensure your business meets the requirements for home occupations outlined in SMC 14.207.075(3). Home occupations are intended for indoor activities with limited or no customer visits.
  • Signs.

    Most new or modified signs require a sign permit to ensure consistency with the adopted sign standards. Good signage will ensure that every business is visible and streetscapes remain un-cluttered.
  • A-Boards.

    A-board (sandwich board) signs do not require a sign permit, but are permitted only outside of the Historic District. An A-board sign may be placed within the public right-of-way where it will not pose a safety hazard for pedestrians or motorists. A-board sign standards include size restrictions.
  • Building Permits.

    A building permit is required for some building modifications that may necessary to accommodate your business, such as demolition of walls, new plumbing fixtures, etc.

Assistance in Beginning

a Business

The State of Washington has created a guide to assist you in how to start a business. Other helpful information from the State can be found at the following websites:

Useful Resources

The following agencies offer valuable resources to assist you as you plan your business:

Design Review

If your business is located in the City’s federally listed Historic District, exterior modifications (including signs) require prior approval from the Design Review Board. The intent is to preserve the historic flavor of the district so that it will continue to be a regional attraction into the future. For more information on the Historic District design standards and design review process, please contact Brooke Eidem.

Change of Use and Certificate of Occupancy

A Change of Use Application is required for all new businesses that represent a change in occupancy type for the space (such as a retail space changing to a restaurant, an office changing to retail, or a home changing to an office). The application is reviewed for compliance with all applicable codes including life safety requirements, zoning, and parking. A Certificate of Occupancy is required before opening a new, reconfigured, or repurposed space to the public and will be issued following receipt of your business license application and a site visit by the Building Division staff. Your Certificate of Occupancy lets your customers know that your business is in compliance with public health and safety requirements. Contact Sharon Pettit with any questions on obtaining a Certificate of Occupancy.  Changes of Use and Certificates of Occupancy are processed through the Self-Service Permit Portal.

Contact Us

  1. Shari Ireton

    Director of Community Engagement & Strategic Initiatives

    Email Shari


    Brady Begin

    Economic Development & Outreach Coordinator

    Email Brady