Business Resources

The City of Pasadena welcomes your business! We are a business-friendly City ready and willing to help you. We are so business friendly that the Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation / San Gabriel Valley Economic Partnership recently named the City of Pasadena as a finalist for the 20th Annual “Most Business Friendly City” Award.

Pasadena’s Economic Development Division is focused on encouraging and facilitating investment that contributes to Pasadena quality of life. We have attempted to collect all of the information and assets you may need to open, expand, or relocate your business in Pasadena. If there is anything else that you need, or want site-specific information customized for your business, please contact us.

Starting a Business

Starting a Business

We know opening a business is a daunting process – between dealing with the City, County, State, landlords, brokers, and the IRS – there is no single business that is the same therefore no single formula applies. The Economic Development Division has practical experience helping scores of business locate and successfully open in Pasadena, and we are here to help you. That being said we’ve mapped the process of opening a business in Pasadena into five basic categories with detailed steps along the way to help you successfully start your business.

Business Resources: Starting a Business [PDF]

Business Resources: Starting a Business [PDF]

1 – Concept Development – Business and Marketing Plan

Opening a business is a big decision and access to accurate information and assistance is crucial. Business start-up assistance and other programs are available from the Economic Development Division, the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) hosted by Pasadena City College, and SCORE LA through the Small Business Association (SBA). The SBDC provides one-on-one counseling, business training seminars in marketing, financing, business start-up, international trade, and procurement programs to small businesses. SCORE LA is a volunteer-driven organization supported by the SBA, their volunteers are from all walks of business life. Most have owned or still own successful businesses – others come from high-level management positions and offer free business counseling by appointment only. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States. The SBA helps Americans start, build, and grow businesses.

Economic Development Division 100 N. Garfield Avenue, 4th floor, Pasadena, CA 91101
Ruth Martinez, Business Concierge (626) 744-7351
SBDC – Small Business Development Center @ PCC
Salvatrice Cummo, Director (626) 585-7123 x3106

SCORE – Service Core of Retired Executives
SCORE Meeting Location: Pasadena Public Library 285 E Walnut Street 4th Floor, Pasadena, CA 91101
To schedule your SCORE meeting, contact Ruth Martinez, Business Concierge (626) 744-7351

Small Business Administration
330 North Brand Suite 1200
91203 Glendale, CA
Phone: 818-552-3201
Fax: 202-481-0344

2 – Establishment and Formation 

Before opening your business, you must first establish it as an entity. Deciding on how to set up your business involves many considerations – will you operate as a Sole Proprietorship, Partnership, or Corporation? These types of decisions have a variety of implications. Once this is underway, you can start the process of securing permits, selecting a location, and establishing your business entity. You are well on your way to opening day!

Classifying Your Business Structure
The business structure you choose will have legal and tax implications, therefore it’s important to learn about the different types of business structures and find the one best suited for your business. Below is a brief description of common business structures:

  • A sole proprietorship refers to a business entity wherein there is no distinction between the owner and the business. The owner receives all profits and revenue but also assumes all debts, losses, and responsibilities.
  • A partnership is any business that is owned by two or more individuals. A general partnership assumes that all duties, responsibilities, and profits will be shared equally amongst all partners. A limited partnership infers that partners take on limited liability but also assume limited input in decisions relating to the business. A joint venture acts in the same fashion as a general partnership but only for a limited period of time or for a single project.
  • A corporation entails a separate legal entity in which the owner(s) assume control of the business and its’ profits but relinquish liabilities and responsibilities. (If you are filing as a corporation, S-corporation, partnership, or limited liability company, you must register with the Secretary of State at (916) 657-5448)

It’s important to know which category your business falls into in order to ensure proper documentation is completed.

Filing Your Business
To file your application, contact the Franchise Tax Board. The FTB will issue your company a Federal ID Number and State Employer ID Number once approved. Franchise Tax Board – (800) 852-5711

Naming Your Business
Fictitious Business Name – LA County Recorder

  • If you intend to name your company anything other than your own name, you must file a Fictitious Business Name, also called a DBA (Doing Business As).
  • To file a DBA, contact the Los Angeles County Registrar – (310) 727-6142 filing hours 8:30am- 3:30pm Monday- Friday, except holidays.

Seller/Reseller’s Permit

  • You must obtain a seller’s permit if you:
    • are engaged in business in California;
    • intend to sell or lease tangible personal property that would ordinarily be subject to sales tax if sold at retail (this includes wholesalers, manufactures, and retailers) or
    • will make sales for a temporary period, normally lasting no longer than 90 days at one or more locations (for example, fireworks booth, Christmas tree lots, and garage sale).
  • You can register online at the California State Board of Equalization or call (800) 400-7115

Pasadena Business License

All businesses operating within the City must obtain a business license and renew annually. Additionally, the Business License Division can inform you of which permits are necessary before opening to the public. Apply online or download our application and visit us in person at City Hall – 100 North Garfield Avenue, Room N106, Pasadena, CA 91101 or call  (626) 744-4166

NOTE:  All businesses and residences that have an alarm system that alerts the Police Department or others of an unlawful entry are required to also obtain a permit for the alarm system.

3 – Finding a Location

Pasadena’s Economic Development Division has a number of tools to help you understand the Pasadena market to evaluate and identify the ideal location for your business. As you well know, Pasadena is home to a variety of business districts and commercial neighborhoods, many with separate rules and regulations for each. It will be important to connect with staff to confirm that your business is allowed in the area that you hope to operate. If you would like to conduct an online search of available properties, please visit our online property showcase. Please contact our Economic Development Division to help with specific business needs.

Technology:  Eric Duyshart, Economic Development Manager (626) 744-7353
Restaurant / Retail / Office:  Ruth Martinez, Project Manager/Business Concierge (626) 744-7351

4 – Minimum Wage Ordinance

The Pasadena City Council adopted a Minimum Wage Ordinance on March 14, 2016. The ordinance took effect on July 1, 2016, for large employers and will take effect on July 1, 2017, for smaller employers. The recently adopted state minimum wage law does not preempt Pasadena’s minimum wage ordinance. Pasadena’s minimum wage ordinance provides for a steeper increase in the minimum wage than does the State.

The employer wage rate implementation schedule is as follows:

Employers with 26 or more employees shall pay a wage of no less than the hourly rates set forth:
1. On July 1, 2016, the hourly wage shall be $10.50
2. On July 1, 2017, the hourly wage shall be $12.00
3. On July 1, 2018, the hourly wage shall be $13.25

Employers with 25 or fewer employees shall pay a wage of no less than the hourly rates set forth:
1. On July 1, 2017, the hourly wage shall be $10.50

The minimum wage requirement set forth in the Pasadena Minimum Wage Ordinance applies to adult and minor employees who work (2) or more hours per week in Pasadena. Each year, the City will adjust the minimum wage based on the US Department of Labor’s regional Consumer Price Index.
Under the Ordinance, employees who assert their rights to receive the City’s minimum wage are protected from retaliation. Employees may file a civil lawsuit against their employers for any violation of the ordinance or may file a complaint with the City’s Department of Human Services and Recreation. The City will investigate possible violations and, and where appropriate, will obtain payroll records as provided by law, and will enforce violations of the minimum wage withheld, and penalties. In addition, any business that violates the provisions of the Pasadena Minimum Wage Ordinance is subject to criminal prosecution.
Pasadena’s new minimum wage rules were approved prior to the State of California taking action to increase the State Minimum Wage. While similarities exist, the requirements are different. If you have any questions contact your employer or the City of Pasadena:
City of Pasadena
Department of Human Services and Recreation
(626) 744-7300
(626) 744-6530
**Posters need to be displayed where employees can easily read them. Please visit the City of Pasadena Minimum Wage website to download poster:**

5 – Permits

Depending on the type of business you plan to conduct, you may be required to obtain a variety of permits such as Health Permit, Zoning Inspection, Fire Inspection, Alcoholic Beverage Permit, Contractor’s License, and others. The Economic Development Division can assist you in determining what other approvals you may need. Contact us for assistance in navigating this process at (626) 744-4660

As a resource, individual Departments and agencies are listed below:

Zoning – For questions about Zoning, Environmental Review, Land Use, and Conditional Use Permits: (626) 744-6777

Building & Safety Division – For questions about Plan Check, Mechanical, and Electrical Permits call the Pasadena Permit Center: (626) 744-4200

Business Licenses: (626) 744-4166

Public Works – For questions on public right-of-way: (626) 744-4195, sanitation and recycling: (626) 744-7175

Fire Plan Check / Prevention Services: (626) 744-6885

Health Permit – Some businesses, such as restaurants, retail market, tattoo shop, and others, are required to obtain a health permit. Contact the Environmental Health Division: (626) 744-6004.

Pasadena Water and Power – To establish new service, contact PWP’s Business Services Division: (626) 744-7311. For power service upgrades, contact PWP’s Utilities Planning Division: (626) 744-4495

Valet Operations – The City of Pasadena requires a valet operating permit for all valet operators. Please contact Pasadena’s Transportation Department for information on Valet Booth Operations: (626) 744-7665

Sidewalk Dining Permit – Pasadena’s Engineering Division of Public Works is responsible for sidewalk dining. Download the Sidewalk Dining Information Packet and Application for rules and regulations: (626) 744-4195

Alcohol Beverage Control

In the event your business intends to sell alcohol, you will need to secure an alcohol license from California’s Alcohol Beverage Control as well as a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) from the City of Pasadena. Contact the City’s Zoning Division for information on the CUP process. Alcohol Beverage Control – Monrovia Field Office 222 E. Huntington Dr., Suite 114 Monrovia, CA 91016, Tel (626) 256-3241, Fax (626) 357-4173,

Business Intelligence

Business Intelligence

Home to the Mars Rover and the annual Rose Bowl Game®, Pasadena is a Southern California destination for high quality retail shopping and entertainment with strong resident and employee demographics. As an employment center with over 16 million sq. ft. office space, Pasadena also boasts a robust tourism and convention business with many cultural institutions and more restaurants per capita than Manhattan (LA Times, 12/16/12). Only minutes from downtown Los Angeles, Pasadena draws patrons from the entire region.

Pasadena’s Retail Brochure

PDF - Retail Resources

Retail Resources


Pasadena’s Retail Site Assessment provides a snapshot of information and insight into Pasadena’s resident consumer habits. If you would like information specific to your site, and your customer profile, please contact Ruth Martinez or (626) 744-7351 for assistance.

PDF - Pasadena_Retail Site Assessment

Pasadena Retail Site Assessment

Traffic Counts

Traffic counts are conducted throughout the city either through resident requests, development projects, specific and general plans, or engineering studies. The Department of Transportation has collected these traffic and made them available to the public. The 24-hr bi-directional traffic volume counts are available in two different formats: map based (years 2009 & 2010) and spreadsheet (years 2000 to 2010). One map is a citywide traffic volume map; the other is a more detailed East and West Pasadena traffic volume map.  Traffic Counts 2010 – 2014

Major Development Projects

Major Development Projects

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General Commercial Areas

General Commercial Areas

The City has several commercial areas with varying composition, character, and size. Each business district /commercial area of Pasadena presents different opportunities for new businesses and consumers.

Civic Center/ Paseo Colorado

East Colorado Boulevard/Lamanda Park

East Washington Boulevard


Lincoln Corridor

North Fair Oaks Avenue

North Lake Avenue

Old Pasadena Business District

Pasadena Playhouse District

South Fair Oaks Avenue/Arroyo Parkway

South Lake Avenue
General Commercial Areas [IMAGE]

City of Pasadena General Commercial Areas

General Commerical Areas in Pasadena PDF

General Commercial Areas Map PDF




Business Seminars

Pasadena has other resources for training and information:

Small Business Development Center host by Pasadena City College –

SCORE offers free one-on-one business counseling by appointment only. Please call (626) 744-7351 to schedule an appointment in Pasadena.

Real Estate

Real Estate

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