Home Occupation Regulations - What & Why

What's Happening Now?

INTERIM

On March 22, 2021, Mayor Jenny Durkan signed Ordinance 126293. The legislation provides greater flexibility for home occupation businesses in nearly all zones in Seattle, including single-family zones. This ordinance became effective on April 21, 2021. 

The City Council extended this interim home occupation business ordinance by six months in Ordinance 126555, signed by Mayor Bruce Harrell. It has expired as of November, 2022.

PERMANENT

In Fall 2022, Councilmember Dan Strauss is proposing to make permanent updates to the provisions for operating home occupation businesses. The intent is to thoughtfully adjust the home occupation rules to give more flexibility for people to start and conduct businesses from their home. This is likely to be considered by the City Council in the first quarter of 2023.

These businesses widely vary but the most common types are self-employed professional or administrative services, child care, and activities such as food and beverage production, craft work, and equipment or vehicle repair.  The home occupation should be secondary to the use of the home as a residence.

The SEPA Determination of Non-Significance was published on November 28, 2022. See the LUIB notice.

Project Benefits

The proposed update to the home occupation rules will provide flexibility for home occupation businesses because it:

  • Allows customer visits without appointments
  • Allows the home occupation and outdoor activities to be visible from the exterior of a building
  • Allows outdoor activities associated with the home occupation use, while continuing to prohibit spillover impacts such as noise, odor, dust, light and glare
  • Allows two employees who are not residents of the home
  • Allows more daily deliveries, and up to six vehicles to operate at home occupation sites
  • Allows on-street parking and traffic activity, but continues to limit impacts generated by automotive retail sales and services-related home occupations
  • Allows a home occupation to occupy an otherwise required parking space
  • Allows one non-illuminated sign up to 720 square inches (5 square feet) bearing the name of the business
  • The proposed update still prohibits drive-in businesses as home occupations

The ordinance still prohibits drive-in businesses as home occupations. These rules are temporary. Residents using the extra allowances for home occupations must discontinue them once the interim regulations end. Once the interim home occupancy regulations end, all home occupations will need to follow the previous rules that will become effective once again. 

The End Result

Businesses operating from homes have more flexibility in how they operate while regular business operations are disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This helps encourage and preserve the livelihoods of small business owners.