When a business is choosing a new location in California, it is important to research the commercial zoning ordinances and regulations that apply to it. Commercial zoning laws prescribe that certain areas be used in certain ways. Just because a prior tenant used a location in a certain way, if its use was nonconforming, a new business may not use it in the same manner.
Cities normally zone areas for commercial uses, industrial uses, residential uses, recreational uses and agricultural uses. These different zones will restrict businesses from operating in certain areas. Some neighborhoods are zoned for mixed uses, allowing both residential and commercial properties.
In addition to the types of allowed uses, zoning laws may regulate a building's height, the noise level permitted, parking and even the size of signs. If a location does not have enough parking spaces available, the business may need to submit a written parking plan detailing where customers can park. Research should be conducted to determine whether a prior tenant had a variance for the property. Business owners should not sign a commercial lease until they have thoroughly researched the zoning laws applicable to the property.
Small business owners that are looking for a piece of commercial real estate, either to purchase or to lease, may benefit by seeking the help of a business and commercial law attorney. Legal counsel can research all of the zoning regulations in order to help determine if a particular location may be used for the business's intended purpose. Attorneys may also help new businesses by providing assistance through the planning and formation process. When a suitable property is located, an attorney may then review any proposed lease or contract to make certain the client's interests are protected.