Saturday, July 22, 2017

Small business owners need to consider zoning laws, which in some cities are anti-competitive

Here’s an important story on zoning and home-based businesses, “How planners can liberate the next Amazon, by Olivia Gonza;ez and Nolan Gray, link
The news story is quite critical especially of Charlotte NC, which John Stossel had criticized in the 1990s for requiring someone to have a commercial kitchen to sell cookies.  My biggest concern would be book authors who have inventories (which normally are easily kept off site in a storage location), but which involve “sales” operations like taking credit cards or PayPal, as well as depending on Amazon (irony).

In the video below, note the businesses based on writing and niche websites.  Yet, in the 1990s, there were a few cases (in New Jersey, Illinois, and even Los Angeles) where writers were fined for working at home.

Charlotte Observer reports revision of the city’s rules is underway, link. There is also this City-Data link

In the past, established legacy companies may have worried about competition from upstarts with no overhead, and cities may worry about not collecting the tax revenue implicit with rentability of commercial real estate. Even Shark Tank’s Blog Maverick (Mark Cuban) has talked about this in the past. 

But shouldn't the main concern be whether a home-based business brings unreasonable traffic into an area? It makes sense that a home should not be a retail store with hours of being open to the public. But zoning seems to be about more sometimes, about eliminating upstart competition operating with no overhead. 

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