Staying in Compliance While Doing Business in Poway


It is in your best interest to check with the Planning Division before entering into a lease in order to verify whether the business you are planning to open is an allowed land use for that location. Some types of businesses require a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) prior to opening. If you are proposing exterior changes, a planning and/or building permit may be required. Also, keep in mind that certain businesses have increased parking demands and the City may not be able to issue permits, including a Business Certificate, for your proposed business. If you have zoning questions, please call (858) 668-4600 or visit the City's Planning Division.

Tenant Improvements

If you are a tenant and are considering constructing any improvements in your leased space, a building permit may be required. Please check with the Building Division at (858) 668-4644 prior to starting any work. Furthermore, you should be aware that a change in use of the tenant space may also require building improvements even if no other work is being considered.

Business Certificate

Any entity doing business in a commercial building in the City of Poway must obtain a Business Certificate. Contractors who are based in another city and are performing work in the City of Poway, are also required to obtain a business certificate. If your business is operated out of a residence in Poway, you are required to obtain a Home Occupation Permit. The City's municipal code requires that the business must be secondary to the primary use of the home as a residence. For more information about business certificates or home occupation permits, please contact the Customer Services Division at (858) 668-4401.

Temporary Signs

A Temporary Sign Permit (TSP) (PDF) is required for temporary signs, except flag banners and human sign-twirlers. Temporary banners can only be displayed for 75 days per calendar year. Sign size and mounting are specific to the building's frontage and location.

Flag banners are portable, tall and narrow banners, which are mounted vertically to a single pole. Flag banners are allowed in addition to building-mounted banners but can only be displayed Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and City recognized holidays. They cannot be higher than 15 feet and no larger than 30 square-feet and must be at least 5 feet from walkways and driveways. Only one flag banner is allowed for every 40 lineal feet of street frontage, up to a maximum of 3 per property or center. You may obtain a Temporary Sign Permit from the Planning Division at (858) 668-4600.

Permanent Signs

Permanent signs require sign and building permits, prior to being installed. Many centers have a comprehensive sign program which has specific requirements in regards to design, color, size, location, etc. You may obtain a Sign Permit from the Planning Division at (858) 668-4600. A building permit for a wall sign is issued at the same time.

Outdoor Displays

Outdoor display of merchandise requires an Outdoor Display Permit and is limited with respect to content, location, amount and safety implications such as traffic or pedestrian obstructions. Café-type table and chairs do not require an Outdoor Display Permit, but a 48-inch pedestrian passage is necessary for ADA requirements. You may obtain an Outdoor Display Permit from the Planning Division at (858) 668-4600.

Shopping Carts

Placement of shopping cart corrals must be approved by the Planning Division. Although it is not mandated, contracting with a shopping cart retrieval company is recommended to keep carts from accumulating off-site. Carts that obstruct pedestrian or fire lane access can be cited. You may inquire about shopping cart expectations from the Code Compliance Division at (858) 668-4663 or 668-4664.

Temporary Use Permits

Special events being held in your business parking lot require a Temporary Use Permit (TUP). This permit assures there is minimal impact on neighboring businesses, public access and parking, and the environment. A TUP application should be submitted at least 15 days prior to the event since it is reviewed by several departments within the City. You may obtain a TUP application and more information from the Planning Division at (858) 668-4600.

Seatainer Use

A permit is required in order to keep a "seatainer" on a commercial property. The type of permit required is relative to the use and time frame the container will be utilized. Please note: a "seatainer" lasting longer than 90 days requires a Minor Development Review Application. If longer than six months, a Minor Conditional Use Permit is necessary. You may obtain more information from the Planning Division at (858) 668-4600.


The City of Poway has a requirement to remove graffiti as soon as possible, but no longer than 10 days after the event. Some graffiti may be removed with a graffiti removal product, others must be pressure washed or painted over. Please report all graffiti immediately to your property management company and the City of Poway Code Compliance Division at (858) 668-4663 or 668-4664.


Items and equipment are not allowed to be stored or accumulated at the back of a suite. Most alley-ways are fire lanes as well and must remain clear at all times.

Trash and recycling must be properly disposed of and not accumulated outside the dumpster, behind the suite or elsewhere. Recycling is mandated in the City of Poway. Dumpster areas must be clean (by sweeping, not washing into storm drain) and dumpster lids closed at all times.