Opening a Business in PetalumaDepartment Home

Starting or moving a business requires many steps. Here is a checklist of the things you need to think about before starting your business.

Business Checklist

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Starting a business requires many stepts. Here is a checklist of the things you need to think about before starting your business.

Prepare a business plan
A business plan is the blueprint or road map for where your business will travel. Your business plan may also serve as a tool for raising money and is usually required when applying for a loan. The Small Business Development Board can help you through the process of starting a small business. The Small Business Administration also provides a step-by-step guide for starting a small business.

Small Business Development Ctr.

Small Business Administration


Find a location
Petaluma has various business parks and retail centers that offer office, industrial and retail locations for your business. The City of Petaluma assembles a list from local brokers, which is updated quarterly.

Click to access Location page.

Look for Available Real Estate here:

Verify zoning
Before you sign a lease or a purchase contract, make sure the property's zoning will allow your proposed business operation. Sometimes, the use is allowed with a special permit called a "Conditional Use Permit." In that case, it could take 6-8 weeks to for an approval. It is important to be aware that if the business changes ownership or use, you may need to upgrade or change your space.

City of Petaluma Planning Dept.

Determine your structure
If you are establishing a corporation, you will need to file your incorporation documents and request name availability through the State of California.
California Secretary of State

Get Business Financing. Talk to an experienced banker to learn about the many options for financing a start-up or business expansion.  After interviewing and choosing the banker that best meets your needs, be sure to discuss small business financing, equipment leasing, and equity capital options.  Petaluma’s Area Chamber of Commerce has a list of local banks you can start with. 

Small Business Development Ctr.

Download the new California Guide to business financing:

SAFE-BIDCO is a State loan program that provides business financing:


Request a Petaluma business license
To operate
a business in Petaluma, you are required a business license issued by the City of Petaluma. The fee for the license depends on the size and type of business. Business operating in a residential location and business located outside of Petaluma and doing business in Petaluma City of Petaluma Finance 707.778.4352 are required to secure a business license in Petaluma.

City of Petaluma Finance

Obtain required required permits and licenses

Check Permits Made Simple at CALGOLD for other requirements.
Register a Fictitious Business Name - If you create a business with a name other than your own, you are required to register the Fictitious Business Name with the Sonoma County Clerk's Office Sonoma County Clerk's Office
File Articles of Incorporation or to Register a Limited Partnership

California Secretary of State


Building Permit are required for construction, additions or remodels of any to ensure safety, City of Petaluma Building Department
Sales Tax / Resale Permit. required for businesses selling products State Board of Equalization
Federal Tax ID # - required for all businesses, Internal Revenue Services, 800.829.4933, Internal Revenue Service
State Tax ID # required for all businesses Employment Development Department
Sign Permit to receive approval for a business sign Petaluma Planning Dept. 707.778.4470
Health Inspections - for restaurants and food vendors Sonoma County Environmental
Alcohol Beverage License for restaurants and bars serving alcohol or tasting rooms, Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control, 707.576.2165,
CA Department of Consumer Affairs License for professional business such as accountants, engineers, doctors and dentists. CA Dept. of Consumer Affairs
Import / Export Permit . importing or exporting products outside of the US. US Customs
In Home Day Care

Community Care Department of Social Services


Contractor's License

California Contractors State Licensing Board


Utility Agency Permits
Some businesses may need special permission from other regional resource agencies and / or utility companies including the Bay Area Air Quality Management District, the Sonoma County Water Agency, the California Regional Water Quality Control Board. Contact Petaluma's Planning Department to find out if you will need any additional approvals from these agencies.

City of Petaluma Planning Dept.

Water, Waste Water

Leonard Olive, Utility Manager 707-778-4560

Waste Disposal - The Ratto Group


Pacific Gas and Electric

Joe Horak -


Local Transportation
Consider joining a business association

Local business associations are a good way to meet other business owners and to learn more about doing business in Petaluma.  Business associations often schedule events to provide special training for businesses.

Chamber of Commerce 707.762.2785

Chamber's Non-Profit Listing

Petaluma Downtown Association 707.762.9348

Better Business Bureau (BBB)



Get business development updates

Get Business Development Updates

Petaluma D Street


For business assistance, contact:
Ingrid Alverde, Economic Development Manager
ialverde @, 707-778-4549