The City of Alameda offers a vibrant business-friendly environment anchored by a diverse set of thriving small businesses. Downtown Alameda is the commercial, cultural, and civic center of this island city and is an excellent place to start your business.
The following resources can help you to successfully start and operate a business in Alameda.
The Park Street Business Improvement Area (BIA) was first formed in 1981 and is managed by the Downtown Alameda Business Association. The Downtown Association serves as a support network and advocate for businesses operating in the Historic Park Street Business Improvement Area.
The Downtown Alameda Business Association offers numerous benefits and keeps business owners informed of important issues and trends in the community and local marketplace. The Downtown Association is overseen by a Board of Directors and an executive director who strive to promote a healthy retail/service climate as well as a district that is aesthetically pleasing and clean.
Businesses located within the Park Street BIA boundaries pay an annual assessment in combination with their license fee. You can contact the City of Alameda or the Downtown Association Office to learn more about BIA fees and benefits.
Whether you’re looking for the perfect location to open your newly launched business, wanting to relocate your business, or interested in expanding into a new market, opportunity awaits you on Park Street and nearby streets.
View a list of Available Properties
The City of Alameda's Façade Grant Program provides business and property owners with matching grants to improve their storefronts and enhance the city’s retail districts. Applicants may be eligible for matching grants for exterior painting (including murals), new awnings and signs, and refurbishment of architectural features.
View details and guidelines on the city’s website: www.alamedaca.gov/Facade-Grant-Program
Making your business accessible to people with disabilities not only serves your customers, it’s the law. You have an ongoing obligation to make your business accessible. By making accessibility improvements not only will your business be less vulnerable to lawsuits, but you gain a growing market of seniors, families with baby strollers, and persons with disabilities.
Disability Access Rights Laws
It is the responsibility of both the business owner and the property owner to make sure that the facility is in compliance with state and federal accessibility requirements.
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a Federal civil rights law designed to ensure equal access for persons with disabilities in everyday activities. If your business provides goods and services to the public, you are required to remove barriers to accessibility if doing so is “readily achievable.” Additionally, you must comply with ADA design standards for accessible buildings when you alter, renovate, or expand your facility.
California's Disabled Persons Act goes further, and makes a violation of the Federal ADA a violation of California civil rights law, and allows people with disabilities to sue an alleged violating business and property owner to recover monetary damages. Private lawsuits can be filed in Federal Court and are difficult to challenge.
Evaluating Your Business for Compliance:
CASp Property Inspection
The best way to ensure compliance and reduce the risk of getting sued is by obtaining an inspection report of your facility by a Certified Access Specialist (CASp).
A CASp is a person that has been tested and certified by the state as an expert in disability access laws. A CASp will know which standards apply to a property based on the age of the facility and its history of improvements. An experienced CASp can help you identify “readily achievable” barriers for removal and develop a timeline for removing the barriers. Common issues include accessible entryways, path-of-travel clearance, accessible seating, and architectural barriers.
Having a CASp report on file provides a defense against lawsuits and may lessen a business or property owner's liability if an accessibility claim is filed against them.
Resources for ADA Compliance
Businesses must be careful to provide access to their businesses for individuals with disabilities. Both federal and state regulations apply, and there are resources to assist businesses with getting in compliance. Learn More
Are you planning to build, or remodel an existing space? Put up signs, or change anything about your current building? Host a large event? If so, you may need a permit before you start work.
Visit the City's Permit Center (2263 Santa Clara Avenue, Room 190) to get more information about what’s allowed in your space and what kinds of permits you might need.
Learn more: www.alamedaca.gov/Permit-Center
View pending permit applications: https://alameda.buildingeye.com/planning
Although the City does not require a permit for temporary signs, regulations exist to uphold the attractiveness and appearance of the downtown district.
View Alameda's Temporary Signage Guidelines brochure to learn about the most common rules.
Under the Organics Reduction & Recycling Ordinance effective January 2022, all businesses must have recycling and composting service, and materials must be sorted into the correct bins. Learn more about the requirements: https://www.stopwaste.org/rules
Need help setting up or improving your workplace’s recycling program to comply SB 1383 and the Organics Reduction and Recycling Ordinance? StopWaste offers free signs, instructional templates, workbooks, and other useful materials.
More information and free resources: www.stopwaste.org/rules-resources
Single-Use Bag Ban - Retailers, restaurants, and eating establishments are not allowed to provide single-use plastic carryout bags at checkout. The rules vary for the different types of businesses. Get details: reusablebagsac.org
Disposable Food Service Ware - All to-go food ware must be either reusable, recyclable, or compostable. If it looks like plastic, it is not compostable in Alameda's system. Read more about compliant food ware in the "Your Go-To To-Go Guide": www.alamedaca.gov/foodwarebooklet.pdf
Straws On Request - Effective January 1, 2018, commercial food vendors may only provide straws upon a customer’s request. Additionally, the straws must be compostable fiber. Learn more: www.alamedaca.gov/Straw-Free-Initiative
For more information on Alameda’s Green Initiatives, go to the City of Alameda Go Green web page.
Smoking Ordinance - Alameda is a smoke-free city. Smoking is prohibited in all public spaces within the commercial district. View up-to-date info and download "No Smoking" signs.
Flavored Tobacco Ordinance - The sale of flavored tobacco is banned in Alameda. All tobacco retailers in Alameda must obtain a City Tobacco Retail License. Review city FAQs and submit an application: www.alamedaca.gov/Tobacco-Ordinances
The minimum wage in Alameda is currently $15.00 per hour for all employees and employers, regardless of size.
On July 1, 2022, and every July 1st thereafter, the minimum wage rate will be adjusted based on the increase in cost of living.
Learn more about Alameda's Minimum Wage Ordinance and download the official notice to be displayed at your business: www.alamedaca.gov/Minimum-Wage
The City of Alameda has partnered with a variety of organizations to help local businesses recruit, hire, and train employees. Resources include the College of Alameda's One Stop Career Center, Alameda County Workforce Development Board, and State of California Programs. View the list: www.alamedaca.gov/Employment-Resources
Click titles to view page on City's website:
- Municipal Code
- Ordinances (Document Database)
- Live Video
- Starting a Business in Alameda
- Business Licensing and Permits
- Incentive Programs
- Business Associations and Improvement Areas
- Employment Resources
- Bid on City Contracts (RFP/RFQ)