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Tips Before You Sign a LeaseBusiness Resources

Leasing or purchasing a new space is an important first step in securing a location to operate your business. Business owners should carefully research the property, building requirements, and the cost of needed improvements before committing to a lease.

  • Visit the Planning Counter at 630 Garden Street. Learn the history of the property, check the building records and archives, and ask questions to become familiar with the planning and permitting process.

  • Understand the space thoroughly. Don’t assume you’re leasing or purchasing a property where everything is permitted and up to current code requirements. Regulations change frequently.

  • Know where your business can legally operate. Different business types (also called land uses) are allowed to operate in certain areas of the City and need to provide sufficient parking for their employees and customers. Currently, two Zoning Codes address development in the Coastal Zone and outside the Coastal Zone.

  • Anticipate basic building improvements. Upgrades to the building, its mechanical systems, and the site may be needed to comply with building and safety requirements and address aging building needs. Some improvements are expensive. Examples include:

    • ADA accessibility for individuals with a disability

    • Electrical system, HVAC system (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), and plumbing

    • Roof, doors, and windows

    • Mitigating mold, lead, asbestos, or termite infestations

    • Adequate space for trash enclosure

    • Connections to water, sewer, and other utilities

    • Fire sprinklers, backflow devices, irrigation system, waterwise fixtures, and stormwater drainage

    • Adapting a building to withstand potential flooding in a flood zone or coastal area.

  • Create a plan and budget for building improvements. You’re committed to a property once you sign a lease. Pay close attention to when regular lease payments begin. Having a detailed plan, budget, and timeline that allows for contingencies is critical to limiting unforeseen costs and opening your doors on time and within budget. Anticipate possible delays and additional costs.

  • Hire local professionals and monitor their work. Local architects, engineering and planning professionals have the best understanding of City regulations and timelines. They can help you manage tenant improvements and the project planning process. Stay engaged in your project at various stages.

  • Be flexible and anticipate extensive review of your project. Some improvements can be approved over the counter. Other improvements need to be reviewed more carefully by building professionals or engineers. Exterior changes are reviewed by design advisory boards comprised of professionals volunteering their time to maintain Santa Barbara’s aesthetics.

Last Updated: Aug 22, 2018
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