Doing Business in Palm Desert

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Are you looking to open a business in the Coachella Valley? Well, the City of Palm Desert would be proud to partner with you on this venture.

Called the 'heart of the valley,' Palm Desert is a fast-growing and dynamic community. A standout reason businesses choose Palm Desert is for the support and care provided by our Development Services and Economic Development Department. Punching above its weight, the City is invested in your success and has created the following resources for you to streamline the process of opening a business in our great city!

What Are the Steps to Create a Business in Palm Desert?

The below sections are a guide to opening your Palm Desert-based business. If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to use the question tool at the bottom of this page, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

zoning header

  • The City should verify property zoning for all new businesses, business expansions, and home-based businesses to ensure the proposed use meets City zoning requirements.
  • Visit the City of Palm Desert Planning web page for more information about the zoning process, or contact the City of Palm Desert Planning Department at 760-346-0611, ext. 483 for verification.

October 2023 Updates:

Here are some zoning updates that may be coming soon to Palm Desert…

Zoning Ordinance Amendment(ZOA) 23-0002 was approved by the Planning Commission earlier this month. The next steps are pending approval by the City Council at the October 26, 2023, Council Meeting. Zoning Ordinance changes include:

Golf Cart and NEV sales

  • Establishes a separate defined use (currently considered the same as automobiles), which would allow indoors with a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) in the Downtown (D) and Downtown Edge Overly (DE-O) zones and allowed with an Administrative Use Permit (AUP) in Service Industrial zone. Outdoor sales would require the approval of a CUP in the D, DE-O, and SI zoning districts.

Personal Storage Facilities

  • Mini-storage and outdoor RV storage are both currently allowed with the approval of a CUP in the Freeway Commercial Overlay Zone (FCOZ) and are permitted by right in the SI zone. - The ZOA provides a definition for “Personal Storage” to separate personal storage from industrial warehouse use - Personal Storage facilities require a CUP within the FCOZ and SI zone.

Animal Clinics

  • ZOA allows Animal Clinics through a CUP in the D, Downtown Overlay (D-O), and Downtown Edge (DE) districts
  • Would be restricted to properties with frontage along Highway 111 and would be prohibited along El Paseo

Office Uses

  • ZOA revises downtown land use table to allow Medical Offices in the DE-O with approval of an AUP
  • Professional Uses allowed as permitted use in the DE-O
  • Medical Offices existing and operating are permitted by right to continue operating without requiring an AUP

conditional use permit header

business license header

contractors header

  • Section 7033 of the California State Contractor's License Board requires the City to have each applicant verify the State licenses them.
  • The City of Palm Desert will not issue a contractor's business license without a current state contractor's license.

Contractor Tips

  • Hire only state-licensed contractors.
  • Check a contractor’s license number online or by calling 800-321-CSLB.
  • Get at least three bids.
  • Get three references from each bidder and review past work in person.
  • Make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you completely understand the terms.
  • Confirm that the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance for employees.
  • Avoid paying more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.* Avoid paying in cash.
  • Avoid letting payments get ahead of the work.
  • Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project, including all payments.
  • Avoid making the final payment until you’re satisfied with the job.

Be advised that unlicensed individuals pose a risk to you and your family's financial security if a worker is injured while on your property, your property is damaged, or if the work is incomplete and/or faulty. Few, if any, unlicensed individuals have a bond or workers' compensation insurance. The quality of their work usually doesn't compare to that of a licensed contractor. Don't take the chance in order to save a few dollars. You'll probably end up paying more in the long run.

work vehicles licenses header

  • Work vehicles must be identified appropriately to assist field inspectors in surveilling unlicensed businesses.
  • Vehicle tags are issued with your business license at no charge.

el paseo header

  • Businesses located on El Paseo between Highway 74 and Portola Avenue and adjoining streets participate in the El Paseo Parking and Business Improvement District.
  • Business License fees are either one, two, or three times that of the standard business license fee, depending on the type of business conducted. The Additional fees are used for the promotion, advertising, and beautification of El Paseo. Details about the El Paseo Business Improvement District can be found at this link.
  • Palm Desert business license fees details can be found at the following link: Business License Fee Schedule.

business signage header

  • All sign applications must be approved before a sign installation.
  • With a few exceptions, sign approval and sign permits are required. The Palm Desert Sign Ordinance regulates all types of signs and banners. Information about this ordinance can be found here.
  • Many commercial and industrial complexes have adopted sign programs. Check with the building landlord and the City of Palm Desert Planning Department to verify if your complex has an adopted program in place.
  • With few exceptions, building permits are required to install signage.

parking requirements header

  • Parking requirements established in the Palm Desert Municipal Code apply to all new developments and all existing structures when a change of use or expansion is initiated, requiring increased parking.
  • Any valet parking services require a Valet Parking Permit.

building and safety header

  • The Building and Safety division enforces State and City regulations regarding construction and building maintenance. These regulations are designed to ensure the public's safety and maintain an appearance that will enhance the community.
  • New businesses and businesses making alterations to their spaces need to contact the Building Department at (760) 346-0611, Ext. 420, about regulations governing any of the following: sign installation, new walls or ceilings to be constructed, new or alterations to plumbing or electrical work, ADA, etc.
  • Remember always contact the Building Department when performing any construction to find out if you need to obtain a building permit, plumbing permit, mechanical permit, or electrical permit for the work being done.
  • Using the City of Palm Desert's Building and Safety web page, prospective business owners can find necessary forms and learn about the permit issuance process.

Are you looking to open a business in the Coachella Valley? Well, the City of Palm Desert would be proud to partner with you on this venture.

Called the 'heart of the valley,' Palm Desert is a fast-growing and dynamic community. A standout reason businesses choose Palm Desert is for the support and care provided by our Development Services and Economic Development Department. Punching above its weight, the City is invested in your success and has created the following resources for you to streamline the process of opening a business in our great city!

What Are the Steps to Create a Business in Palm Desert?

The below sections are a guide to opening your Palm Desert-based business. If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to use the question tool at the bottom of this page, and we'll get back to you as soon as possible.

zoning header

  • The City should verify property zoning for all new businesses, business expansions, and home-based businesses to ensure the proposed use meets City zoning requirements.
  • Visit the City of Palm Desert Planning web page for more information about the zoning process, or contact the City of Palm Desert Planning Department at 760-346-0611, ext. 483 for verification.

October 2023 Updates:

Here are some zoning updates that may be coming soon to Palm Desert…

Zoning Ordinance Amendment(ZOA) 23-0002 was approved by the Planning Commission earlier this month. The next steps are pending approval by the City Council at the October 26, 2023, Council Meeting. Zoning Ordinance changes include:

Golf Cart and NEV sales

  • Establishes a separate defined use (currently considered the same as automobiles), which would allow indoors with a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) in the Downtown (D) and Downtown Edge Overly (DE-O) zones and allowed with an Administrative Use Permit (AUP) in Service Industrial zone. Outdoor sales would require the approval of a CUP in the D, DE-O, and SI zoning districts.

Personal Storage Facilities

  • Mini-storage and outdoor RV storage are both currently allowed with the approval of a CUP in the Freeway Commercial Overlay Zone (FCOZ) and are permitted by right in the SI zone. - The ZOA provides a definition for “Personal Storage” to separate personal storage from industrial warehouse use - Personal Storage facilities require a CUP within the FCOZ and SI zone.

Animal Clinics

  • ZOA allows Animal Clinics through a CUP in the D, Downtown Overlay (D-O), and Downtown Edge (DE) districts
  • Would be restricted to properties with frontage along Highway 111 and would be prohibited along El Paseo

Office Uses

  • ZOA revises downtown land use table to allow Medical Offices in the DE-O with approval of an AUP
  • Professional Uses allowed as permitted use in the DE-O
  • Medical Offices existing and operating are permitted by right to continue operating without requiring an AUP

conditional use permit header

business license header

contractors header

  • Section 7033 of the California State Contractor's License Board requires the City to have each applicant verify the State licenses them.
  • The City of Palm Desert will not issue a contractor's business license without a current state contractor's license.

Contractor Tips

  • Hire only state-licensed contractors.
  • Check a contractor’s license number online or by calling 800-321-CSLB.
  • Get at least three bids.
  • Get three references from each bidder and review past work in person.
  • Make sure all project expectations are in writing and only sign the contract if you completely understand the terms.
  • Confirm that the contractor has workers’ compensation insurance for employees.
  • Avoid paying more than 10% down or $1,000, whichever is less.* Avoid paying in cash.
  • Avoid letting payments get ahead of the work.
  • Keep a job file of all papers relating to your project, including all payments.
  • Avoid making the final payment until you’re satisfied with the job.

Be advised that unlicensed individuals pose a risk to you and your family's financial security if a worker is injured while on your property, your property is damaged, or if the work is incomplete and/or faulty. Few, if any, unlicensed individuals have a bond or workers' compensation insurance. The quality of their work usually doesn't compare to that of a licensed contractor. Don't take the chance in order to save a few dollars. You'll probably end up paying more in the long run.

work vehicles licenses header

  • Work vehicles must be identified appropriately to assist field inspectors in surveilling unlicensed businesses.
  • Vehicle tags are issued with your business license at no charge.

el paseo header

  • Businesses located on El Paseo between Highway 74 and Portola Avenue and adjoining streets participate in the El Paseo Parking and Business Improvement District.
  • Business License fees are either one, two, or three times that of the standard business license fee, depending on the type of business conducted. The Additional fees are used for the promotion, advertising, and beautification of El Paseo. Details about the El Paseo Business Improvement District can be found at this link.
  • Palm Desert business license fees details can be found at the following link: Business License Fee Schedule.

business signage header

  • All sign applications must be approved before a sign installation.
  • With a few exceptions, sign approval and sign permits are required. The Palm Desert Sign Ordinance regulates all types of signs and banners. Information about this ordinance can be found here.
  • Many commercial and industrial complexes have adopted sign programs. Check with the building landlord and the City of Palm Desert Planning Department to verify if your complex has an adopted program in place.
  • With few exceptions, building permits are required to install signage.

parking requirements header

  • Parking requirements established in the Palm Desert Municipal Code apply to all new developments and all existing structures when a change of use or expansion is initiated, requiring increased parking.
  • Any valet parking services require a Valet Parking Permit.

building and safety header

  • The Building and Safety division enforces State and City regulations regarding construction and building maintenance. These regulations are designed to ensure the public's safety and maintain an appearance that will enhance the community.
  • New businesses and businesses making alterations to their spaces need to contact the Building Department at (760) 346-0611, Ext. 420, about regulations governing any of the following: sign installation, new walls or ceilings to be constructed, new or alterations to plumbing or electrical work, ADA, etc.
  • Remember always contact the Building Department when performing any construction to find out if you need to obtain a building permit, plumbing permit, mechanical permit, or electrical permit for the work being done.
  • Using the City of Palm Desert's Building and Safety web page, prospective business owners can find necessary forms and learn about the permit issuance process.

Do You Have Questions About Doing Business in Palm Desert?

You need to be signed in to add your question.

  • Share I wanted to know how we can go about becoming a vendor for the City of Palm Desert. on Facebook Share I wanted to know how we can go about becoming a vendor for the City of Palm Desert. on Twitter Share I wanted to know how we can go about becoming a vendor for the City of Palm Desert. on Linkedin Email I wanted to know how we can go about becoming a vendor for the City of Palm Desert. link

    I wanted to know how we can go about becoming a vendor for the City of Palm Desert.

    Sammers1971 asked 7 months ago

    Good Afternoon, 

    The City's Finance Department manages a list of approved vendors. To be added to the list, please email purchasing@palmdesert.gov with your business name and details on what services are provided. Their team will reach out if additional information is needed. 

    Best, 

    Ryland Penta