Housing and Economic Development 
1901 Main Street, Suite C
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Santa Monica Economica Development

Economic Development Division

Frequently Asked Questions

We are pleased that you are considering Santa Monica for your business, but we anticipate that you may have some questions.  Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive.  If you have additional questions, the City of Santa Monica's Economic Development Team at (310) 458-8906 or econdev@smgov.net will be happy to assist you.

Frequently Asked Questions 

How do I open a business in Santa Monica?

What are the costs of doing business in Santa Monica?

How does Santa Monica support businesses?

Where are businesses located in Santa Monica?

Are there special assessment districts and what are the fees?

Where can I find economic and demographic data for Santa Monica?

How can I network with other Santa Monica businesses?

How can I do business WITH the City of Santa Monica?

How do I become green certified?

What is the Buy Local Santa Monica campaign?

How do I obtain an outdoor dining license?

How do I become a vendor on the Pier or Third Street Promenade?

How do I participate in the Santa Monica Farmers Market?

What is the Transportation Managment Plan Ordinance 1604 and how does it impact my business

 Farmers Market Aerial

How do I open a business in Santa Monica?

First, take a look at the Steps to Opening a Business flow chart (click here) and the April 2012 Business Outreach Workshop Presentation (click here).  For a more comprehensive information guide on setting up a business in Santa Monica, click here.  If you are in the very early stages and need assistance with creating a business plan or obtaining financing, contact the Santa Monica Small Business Development Center at (310) 434-3566 or click here.

What are the costs of doing business in Santa Monica?   

The City of Santa Monica Municipal Code requires all businesses operating in Santa Monica to pay an annual business license tax.  Businesses located in Santa Monica whose world-wide gross receipts do not exceed $40,000 are exempt from business tax, but are required to maintain a business license and pay all other taxes and fees.  Depending on the location of your business, there may be a business improvement district assessment fee (see below for more info). The City of Santa Monica Utility Users tax rate is 10%.  To view the business license fees, permit costs and taxes for Santa Monica businesses, click here

How does Santa Monica support businesses?    

To find out about the latest incentives and assistance programs, please click here

Where are businesses located in Santa Monica?     

Santa Monica has four business improvement districts (Downtown Santa Monica, Main Street, Montana Avenue, Pico Boulevard), and clusters of economic activity at Santa Monica Pier, Santa Monica Place, Santa Monica Airport and Business Park, Bergamot Station and along our long-established commercial corridors (e.g. Wilshire, SM Blvd, Lincoln, Ocean Avenue, Ocean Park Blvd).  We have everything from retail vending carts and traditional "Mom + Pop" shops to creative retail/office, world-class office parks and a luxury shopping mall.  For more information and a map of our unique, vibrant districts, click here.  The EDD team is happy to help answer any questions you have about the various locations and offer advice on what might be the best fit for your particular type of business. 

Are there special assessment districts and what are the fees?   

Many of Santa Monica's businesses and property owners have organized to establish special assessment districts in order to raise funds for marketing, supplemental cleansing services, parking and promotions--all factors that help to create more vibrant, sustainable business districts.  For more information on Santa Monica's assessment districts, click here to go to our Business Organizations section.

Where can I find economic and demographic data for Santa Monica?  

For a snapshot of Santa Monica including basic demographic data, employment by NAICS sector and the economic benefits of tourism, click here.   For the more detailed City of Santa Monica annual community profile, click here.  The US Census Bureau is also an excellent resource for detailed demographic statistics by City and zip code (click here). 

How can I network with other Santa Monica businesses?   

Whether you're looking to network with local businesses, in general, or targeting specific geographic or business clusters (e.g. arts, technology, green businesses), Santa Monica offers many great opportunities for business to business connections via regular mixers, seminars, workshops and events.  View our News + Events section and Business Organizations & Assessments page for links to our partners and upcoming opportunities for B2B networking.

How can I do business WITH the City of Santa Monica?   

For a list of current City of Santa Monica bids and proposals or to register to become a vendor with the City, click here.

How do I become green certified?    

For details on becoming a green certified business, call Sustainable Works at (310) 458-8716 or click here.

What is the Buy Local Santa Monica campaign?    

The Buy Local Santa Monica Campaign is a partnership between the City and the Santa Monica business community dedicated to promoting the environmental, community and economic benefits of buying locally.  All Santa Monica businesses are invited to join this FREE marketing campaign (click here to sign up).  For more info:  www.buylocalsm.com

How do I obtain an outdoor dining license?    

In order to utilize the public right-of-way for outdoor dining, you need to have a permit through the City Planning Department and a license obtained through the Economic Development Division. Other steps may be necessary depending on the location and size of the dining area proposed. To view the procedure or download applications, click here.

How do I become a vendor on the Pier or Third Street Promenade?    

    * To express interest in leasing a kiosk or vending cart space on the Santa Monica Pier, click here and fill out the form to be added to the leasing notification list. You will be contacted when space becomes available.
    * For information on vending carts on the Third Street Promenade, call (818) 458-5554.
    * To become a street performer on the Pier or Promenade, contact the Business License Department at (310) 458-8745.
    * Any available opportunities or spaces being leased by the City of Santa Monica are listed on the Spaces and Opportunities section of our website.

How do I participate in the Santa Monica Farmers Market?

The City of Santa Monica operates four farmers markets.  To find out about upcoming vending opportunities for farmers, food producers, retail/arts vendors and entertainers, click here.  

What is the Transportation Managment Plan Ordinance 1604 and how does it impact my business?

The Transportation Management Plan Ordinance 1604 (TMP 1604) was enacted by the City of Santa Monica in 1990 in an effort to reduce traffic congestion and improve air quality. The Ordinance regulates all employers with ten or more employees to implement trip reduction programs in an effort to reduce the number of peak hour solo commute trips by annually submitting a City established Emission Reduction Plan.  For additional info and assistance, contact the City of Santa Monica’s Transportation Engineering & Management Division at (310) 458-8291 or email: transportation.management@smgov.net

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