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Zoning for Home Offices: Recognizing Reality

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... Relaxing zoning to allow people to work at home simply recognizes reality. Prohibitive or overly restrictive zoning results in people hiding their businesses, which:

  • Turns law abiding citizens into violators, undermining respect for law and government.
  • Causes people to hide what they do. They don't select a business name which may draw business to them, they don't list their business in the Yellow Pages, and, in other ways, simply don't fully market their business.
  • Adds unnecessary cases to crowded court dockets and deepens neighborhood enmities by giving neighbors the ability to extend grievances by reporting their neighbor to the authorities for working at home.

Communities Will Gain

Working from home. Illustration by Paul Hoffman for PlannersWeb
Illustration by Paul Hoffman for PlannersWeb

Self-interest is a second reason to interest communities in updating their zoning. Few local governments today are not pressed for funds. Someone operating a home business that violates a zoning ordinances is not apt to buy a business license. This deprives local governments of needed revenue that would come from many legalized home-based businesses obtaining business licenses. Localities with gross receipts taxes can figure they are losing substantial revenues from unlicensed home businesses.

Looking beyond the immediate impact on revenue, homes have traditionally been the incubators for businesses which eventually expand and move into commercial office space. ...

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