Pasadena’s Economic Development Division is focused on encouraging and facilitating investment that contributes to Pasadena quality of life. We have attempted to collect all of the information and assets you may need to open, expand, or relocate your business in Pasadena. If there is anything else that you need, or want site-specific information customized for your business, please contact us.
Start a Business
Open a Business
We know opening a business is a daunting process – between dealing with the City, County, State, landlords and brokers, IRS – there is no single business that is the same and so no single formula applies. The Economic Development Division has practical experience having helped scores of business locate in Pasadena and even opened some businesses on their own and is here to help. That said, we’ve mapped the process of opening a business in Pasadena into four basic categories with detailed steps along the way, to help you, get on your way.
1 – Concept Development – Business and Marketing Plan
Opening a business is a big decision and access to accurate information and assistance is critical. Business start-up assistance and other programs are available from the Economic Development Division, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by Pasadena City College, and SCORE. The SBDC provides one-on-one counseling, business training seminars in marketing, financing, business start-up, international trade, and procurement programs to small businesses.
Economic Development Division 100 N. Garfield Avenue, 4th floor, Pasadena, CA 91101
Ruth Martinez, Business Concierge (626) 744-7351
Robert Montano, Business Concierge (626) 744-7357
SBDC – Small Business Development Center @ PCC
Salvatrice Cummo, Director (626) 585-7123
SCORE – Service Core of Retired Executives
SCORE Meeting Location: Pasadena Public Library 285 E Walnut Street, Pasadena, CA 91101
To schedule your SCORE meeting, contact Ruth Martinez, Business Concierge (626) 744-7351
Small Business Administration
330 North Brand Suite 1200
91203 Glendale, CA
2 – Establishment and Formation
Before opening your business, you must first establish it as an entity and deciding on how to set up your business involves many considerations – will you operate as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation? These types of decisions have a variety of implications. Once this is underway, you can start the process of securing permits, selecting a location, and establishing your business entity. You are well on your way to opening day! a) Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation
- A sole proprietorship refers to a business entity wherein there is no distinction between the owner and the business. The owner receives all profits and revenue but also assumes all debts, losses, and responsibilities.
- A partnership is any business that is owned by two or more individuals. A general partnership assumes that all duties, responsibilities, and profits will be shared equally amongst all partners. A limited partnership infers that partners take on limited liability but also assume limited input in decisions relating to the business. A joint venture acts in the same fashion as a general partnership but only for a limited period of time or for a single project.
- A corporation entails a separate legal entity in which the owner(s) assume control of the business and its’ profits but relinquish liabilities and responsibilities. (If you are filing as a corporation, S-Corporation, partnership, or limited liability company, you must register with the Secretary of State at (916) 657-5448)
To file your application, contact the Franchise Tax Board. The FTB will issue your company a Federal ID Number and State Employer ID Number once approved. Franchise Tax Board – (800) 852-5711
- If you intend to name your company anything other than your own name, you must file a Fictitious Business Name, also called a DBA (Doing Business As).
- To file a DBA, contact the Los Angeles County Registrar – (562) 462-2177
c) Seller/Reseller’s Permit
- You must obtain a seller’s permit if you:
- are engaged in business in California;
- intend to sell or lease tangible personal property that would ordinarily be subject to sales tax if sold at retail (this includes wholesalers, manufactures and retailers), or
- will make sales for a temporary period, normally lasting no longer than 90 days at one or more locations (for example, fireworks booth, Christmas tree lots, garage sale).
- You can register online at the California State Board of Equalization or call (800) 400-7115
All businesses operating within the City must obtain a business license and renew annually. Additionally, the Business License Division can inform you of which permits are necessary before opening to the public. Apply online or download our application and visit us in person at City Hall – 100 North Garfield Avenue, Room N106, Pasadena, CA 91101 (626) 744-4166 NOTE: All businesses and residences that have an alarm system that alerts the Police Department or others of an unlawful entry are required to also obtain a permit for the alarm system.
3 – Finding a Location
Pasadena’s Economic Development Team has a number of tools to help you understand the Pasadena market to evaluate and identify the ideal location for your business. As you well know, Pasadena is home to a variety of business districts and commercial neighborhoods, many with separate rules and regulations for each. It will be important to connect with staff to confirm that your business is allowed in the area that you hope to operate. If you would like to conduct some online search of available properties, please visit our online property showcase. Contact our Economic Development Division help specific to your business needs.
4 – Permits
Depending on the type of business you plan to conduct, you may be required to obtain a variety of permits such as Health Permit, Zoning Inspection, Fire Inspection, Alcoholic Beverage Permit, Contractor’s License, and others. The Economic Development Department can assist you in determining what other approvals you may need. Contact us for assistance in navigating this process.
As a resource, individual Departments and agencies are listed below:
Zoning – For questions about Zoning, Environmental Review, Land Use, and Conditional Use Permits: (626) 744-6777
Building & Safety Division – For questions about Plan Check, Mechanical, and Electrical Permits call the Pasadena Permit Center: (626) 744-4200
Business Licenses: (626) 744-4166
Public Works – For questions on public right-of-way, sanitation and recycling: (626) 744-4087
Fire Plan Check / Prevention Services: (626) 744-6885
Health Permit – Some businesses, such as restaurants, retail market, tattoo shop, and others, are required to obtain a health permit. Contact the Environmental Health Division: (626) 744-6004
Pasadena Water and Power – To establish new service, contact PWP’s Business Services Division: (626) 744-3739. For power service upgrades, contact PWPW’s Utilities Planning Division: (626) 744-4495
Valet Operations - The City of Pasadena requires a valet operating permit for all valet operators. Please contact Pasadena’s Transportation Department for information on Valet Booth Operations: (626) 744-7665
Sidewalk Dining Permit - Pasadena’s Engineering Division of Public Works is responsible for sidewalk dining. Download the Sidewalk Dining Information Packet and Application for rules and regulations.
In the event your business intends to sell alcohol, you will need to secure an alcohol license from California’s Alcohol Beverage Control as well as a Conditional Use Permit from the City of Pasadena. Contact the City’s Zoning Division for information on the CUP process.Alcohol Beverage Control – Monrovia Field Office 222 E. Huntington Dr., Suite 114 Monrovia, CA 91016 Tel (626) 256-3241 Fax (626) 357-4173 MNR.Direct@abc.ca.gov
Home to the Mars Rover and the annual Rose Bowl Game®, Pasadena is a Southern California destination for high quality retail shopping and entertainment with strong resident and employee demographics. As an employment center with over 16 million sq. ft. office space, Pasadena also boasts a robust tourism and convention business with many cultural institutions and more restaurants per capita than Manhattan (LA Times, 12/16/12). Only minutes from downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena draws patrons from the entire region.
Pasadena’s Retail Brochure
Pasadena’s Retail Site Assessment provides a snapshot of information and insight into Pasadena’s resident consumer habits. If you would like information specific to your site, and your customer profile, please contact Robert Montano via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or (626) 744-7357 for assistance.
Traffic counts are conducted throughout the city either through resident requests, development projects, specific and general plans, or engineering studies. The Department of Transportation has collected these traffic and made them available to the public. The 24-hr bi-directional traffic volume counts are available in two different formats: map based (years 2009 & 2010) and spreadsheet (years 2000 to 2010). One map is a citywide traffic volume map; the other is a more detailed East and West Pasadena traffic volume map. Traffic Counts 2010 – 2014
Major Development Projects
The City consists of several commercial districts, all of varying composition, character, and size. The downtown downtown contains several unique Retail Districts, and is approximately 1.5 square miles extending from Pasadena Avenue east to Lake Avenue, and the 210 Foothill Freeway south, to California Boulevard. Other commercial districts include Hastings Ranch in East Pasadena, North Lake, East Washington, Lincoln Avenue, Lamanda Park, and Renaissance Square.
Old Pasadena is an historic 20-block area known for its award winning streetscapes, walkways and breathtaking architectural styles. With its collection of tenants such as Tiffany and Co., Crate & Barrel, J Crew, etc., local retailers, and boutiques, complement an outstanding array of the region’s finest restaurants.
The Old Pasadena Management District (OPMD) is a non-profit business organization that creatively plans, manages and develops Old Pasadena as a unique, authentic and vibrant downtown experience.
Civic Center/ Paseo Colorado is located between Old Pasadena and the Playhouse District. The Civic Center Skyline allows a grand display of Renaissance and Mediterranean architecture by some of California’s renowned architects from the 1920’s and 1930’s. Adding to the mix are world-class hotels and modern office structures. In keeping with tradition, Paseo Colorado is an open-air urban village that brings together national & regional retailers such as ArcLight theaters, Equinox, the Yard House and PF Changs as well as 400 residential units.
The Playhouse District is Pasadena’s center for art, literature and entertainment. The district is home to art cinemas, museums, and live performance theaters, surrounded by an eclectic mix of galleries, and restaurants such as Urth Caffe, Roy’s, and Tender Greens. The Playhouse District has emerged as the City’s urban neighborhood.
The Playhouse District Association (PDA), a non-profit corporation that is dedicated to managing and marketing Pasadena’s Playhouse District through ambitious programs that contribute to a vital district.
South Lake Avenue, with its pleasant corridor of tree lined streets, sidewalk café’s and top retailers offers its guests everything from Talbot’s and Ann Taylor, to Williams Sonoma. Anchored by a flagship Macy’s Department Store, the area is a local favorite for its selection of local culinary and home-goods shops, convenient parking and proximity to California Institute of Technology and the luxury Langham Hotel, named best hotel in Los Angeles by U.S. News in 2011 and Worlds 500 best by Travel and Leisure.
The South Lake Business Association is a non-profit corporation whose mission is to proactively promote and improve the economic interest of its membership by providing and managing supplemental services and improvements for the South Lake Neighborhood.