Anyone planning to start a business in California must consider zoning laws regardless of whether it is a home business or a commercial building. Zoning laws regulate certain buildings to specific areas as well as the size and number of structures. These laws help to preserve land in residential areas and prevent unsuitable businesses and structures. Understanding how zoning codes work saves owners from legal trouble.

There are several types of zoning codes that divide further into sub-categories. Residential zoning laws govern single-family units, duplexes, condominiums, trailer parks and apartment complexes. Agricultural and rural zoning laws govern farming and ranches, and commercial zoning regulates any non-residential structure. Some coastal regions designate certain areas as flood zones, which may prohibit building or require the owner to have flooding insurance.

Zoning codes may restrict additional structure details. Some codes restrict the size, location and type of signage as well as utility lines, building height and distance from roads or curbs. Use restrictions of buildings may apply in some cases. For example, a historic home in a residential area may not be converted into a bed and breakfast or used for farming.

People who want to start a home business should learn about the zoning laws in their area. If a person is planning to have a home beauty salon, for instance, they would have to ensure that it doesn’t break codes. It may also require a permit to run the business from home.

Most businesses require a permit, which can be obtained from the local or county office. The owner usually will need to fill out the application and then have it reviewed by a board. Some home businesses may require a survey of neighboring residents to get their opinion.

Even when business owners think they have done everything right, they can face zoning violations. A lawyer who is knowledgeable in real estate law may help them challenge the violation.