Doing business at home


    I am concerned that recent letters to the editor might give Malibu residents the wrong idea about our current law regulating home businesses.

    Section 9.0.03 (A)(19) of the Zoning Code allows “Home Occupations” but does place some limitations on that activity.

    A resident may work at home but “the existence of a home occupation shall not be apparent beyond the boundaries of the site,” “no signage shall be permitted,” “no one other than residents of the dwelling shall by employed on-site or report to work at the site,” “the Home Occupation shall not create pedestrian, automobile, or truck traffic or parked vehicles in excess of the normal amount in the district,” and “a home occupation shall not include an office, sales room, or any other space open to any business visitors, customers, or clients. . .” These limitations are designed to allow residents to work at home while protecting neighborhoods from the impact of a business being operated in a residential area.

    This ordinance does not “criminalize business meetings” as alleged by one recent letter. Entertaining employees and clients, “collaborative writing,” personal training at home, and meetings with “creative teams” are not prohibited by this ordinance. It is not true that discussing business in your home would “subject you to criminal prosecution” as was alleged in another recent letter.

    The spirit of the ordinance is to prevent a residential neighborhood from being impacted by a business which has employees reporting to work on a daily basis and customers being attracted to the location–and that is how it is enforced.

    There are currently only three cases in which this ordinance is being enforced. One involves a business with 10-12 employees reporting to work at a residence daily, the second involves a business with 5-6 employees daily, and the third involves 1-20 clients coming to the location daily. In each of these cases, complaints were received by neighbors who were impacted by the increased traffic and noise created by the business in the neighborhood.

    The Code Enforcement Task Force may, if it chooses to do so, consider this issue–as one of its tasks is “permitted uses” which would include Home Occupations. The citizens of Malibu have every right to request a change in this ordinance but that decision should be made based on facts, not irresponsible statements intended to support a particular agenda.

    Victor Peterson

    Building Official