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Planning Department Business Information Page

Business Information During COVID-19

EMERGENCY PROGRAM - Temporary Program to Allow Outdoor Commercial Activity During COVID-19

Starting a Business in Pacifica

A How To Guide

Additional Resources

CA Disability Access Requirements and Resources - Commercial Building Permits and Business Licensing 

Commercial Districts

If you are interested in starting or relocating a business in Pacifica, please review information about the City's commercial districts in order to determine which district is most suitable for your business:

C-1 Neighborhood Commercial District
C-2 Community Commercial District
C-3 Service Commercial District
O    Professional Office District

"Permitted uses" within any district may commence after obtaining the necessary business license.  In some cases additional permit/licenses may be required.  Please review the City's main business webpage for more information about additional permits/licenses.  If the use you are considering is a "conditional use" within the district, a use permit must first be obtained.  Please contact the Planning Department directly if your business is a conditional use.

Please contact the Planning Department directly to determine which district the location you are considering is located within.

Outdoor Commercial Uses

If any part of your business will take place outdoors (such as seating at food service establishments, materials storage or sales of materials kept outdoors) a permit may be required.  Please contact Planning staff for more information.

Businesses Located West of Highway 1

All properties located west of Highway 1 are also located within Pacifica's Coastal Zone.  Businesses located within commercial districts in the Coastal Zone must be visitor serving in nature.

"Visitor-serving use" shall mean commercial and recreational uses which provide goods and/or services needed by, or of particular interest to, visitors.  Such uses shall include, but not be limited to:

  • Motels;
  • Hotels;
  • Restaurants;
  • Delicatessens;
  • Crafts and art galleries;
  • Retail uses of interest to visitors;
  • Recreational and sporting equipment sales and rentals;
  • Campgrounds; and
  • Bait and tackle shops.

Home Occupations

If you would like to operate a small business from your home you may apply for a Home Occupation Permit when applying for your business license.  Please review the following requirements ahead of time to make sure your business is suitable for a home occupation.


If you plan to install a new freestanding or wall-mounted sign, approval of a building and/or sign permit will be required.  Replacement of sign copy does not generally require City approval unless the sign copy area will be increased.  Please review the City's Sign Ordinance for more information.


If your business requires approval of a use permit, or if you will be developing/redeveloping a commercial property, please review the City's parking standards to determine how many parking spaces are needed and ensure that the City's design standards for parking lots are met.