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Council to review home occupation permits

20120629 homebusinessA request to establish a flower shop in a residence spurred Mission Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas to order a review of the city’s home occupation ordinance.

“I want to protect the merchants who operate businesses in our central business district and who pay taxes to the city on their sales,” Salinas said during the discussion at Mission City Council meeting held Monday, June 25. “Allowing home occupations where people can produce and sell merchandise at lower costs because they have no overhead is unfair to the merchants who support the downtown area of the city.”

Mayor Salinas suggested that before the request was approved or denied, the council should review the home occupation ordinance. He said he wants to hear from other flower shop owners to find out how they feel about a home-based flower shop competing for their customers during peak selling periods.

“Many of these people operate these businesses without getting a home occupation business permit and do not pay taxes to the city,” stated the Mayor. It is time to do something about these businesses that are taking profits away from the hard working merchants who keep the downtown area going and who pay taxes to the city and overhead on their buildings. They are the life of the community and need to be protected.”

The conditional use permit in question was for a home occupation flower shop requested by Aurora Lopez at 1632 N. Bryan Road, in an area zoned for residential use. The requestor indicated that the shop would primarily serve customers during peak periods for florists, such as Mother’s Day and Valentine’s Day.

According to the minutes of the Planning and Zoning meeting where the request was heard and approved unanimously, hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Sunday. There are no external signs announcing a home occupation flower shop at that location.

While Lopez is the primary employee, she does have two people that help with large orders or deliveries. Most orders are by phone and are delivered without the customer coming to the single family residential home to pick up merchandise. On special days, such as Valentine’s Day, people do drop in, but Lopez has widened her driveway to accommodate five cars.

There were no neighborhood complaints about the business at the Planning and Zoning meeting.

If flower shops are no longer considered to be home occupations, Lopez will either have to close her business or move to a commercial building and compete with other florists who have commercial business locations. If other home occupations were also denied, the operators of those businesses would have to open commercially or stop operating their businesses.

Councilwoman Norie Garza asked if the mayor intended to eliminate all the home occupation daycares in the city. Where did he intend to draw the line?

Maria Elena Ramirez said roadside food vendors who sell items along the highways are taking business away from restaurants, such as the one owned by her brother-in-law. Are they going to be stopped?

The item was tabled until the next council meeting to be held July 9, when both the home occupation ordinance and the permit for the home-based flower shop are expected to be on the agenda for consideration.

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