View Full Version : Any recourse against a city that refuses to issue a business license?

hill billy
12-02-2009, 11:53 AM
.........I went and applied for a permit to operate a business(07 FFL) out of my home. The planning department pretty much assures me it will be denied even though I wrote a lengthy diatribe explaining why it would not violate any of the conditions of a home based business. There is no explicit reasoning in any of the zoning or business laws in Palmdale that say I can't, but the planner was pretty displeased when I said I planned to get a Federal License to manufacture firearms.

.........I can appeal it to the full planning commission and then if it is denied there I can push it to the city council of three members. One of them is a cop, one of the others is very pro gun. I'm hoping if I have to push it that far it will be approved but am wondering if I have any other course of action.

12-02-2009, 12:09 PM
Planners, for the most part and in my experience are left leaning critters that like to raise hell with development and business of any kind, so don't feel like you're being picked on for the firearms business, per se. (Although that may grate on them on another level). Staff's normal answer, unless they are very proactive is "no, you can't do that".

Your doing the right thing by taking it up the ladder although in my jurisdiction a call from your friendly city council person to staff, may have them review their decision in a slightly different light and save you some time. :D

hill billy
12-02-2009, 12:13 PM
I have long experience dealing with city offices in LA, dealing with these podunk offices is kind of annoying. :D

12-02-2009, 12:32 PM
Take it up the ladder.

The village I live in here and a neighboring village banned ice cream trucks a decade or so ago. Who knows why.

A friend got one of the villages to lift the ban late last summer and is working on the other village. It is a time consuming process. I think he might convince them.

On the good side, he did not have a whole lot of trouble getting a business license to run a gun shop out of his basement.

12-02-2009, 12:38 PM
Oh, on another note, if you have an economic development authority, meet with them and see if he can support your application and or pull some strings. The E.D. people really do try and make it easier for business to get started, or at least they're supposed to. YMMV...

Tragic Image
12-02-2009, 12:49 PM
Come on.... Palmdale isn't that bad....

I've been wondering about getting an FFL to be able to handle the odd transfer here and there...

kinda sucks that to hear that Palmdale isn't OK with it...

12-02-2009, 10:11 PM
Having a business in a residential area can be a problem. Increased traffic, operating hours of business that disrupt the neighbors, or possibly hazardous materials.

Even my very conservative town wouldn't let me open a home based FFL. It has to be properly zoned.

Give it a fight though, you might win and it will be an experience trying.

12-03-2009, 9:27 AM
The problem with Palmdale is that it is LA County which does not allow for a home based business that requires people come to the business. A City in LA County can override that issue though. Some cities use the County for the licenses/permits, so they lie to you. If where you live falls under the Sheriff's License Detail, you might want to contact them. It can be quite helpful to have their information as it quickly can change their attitude (been there, done that).

hill billy
02-04-2010, 8:30 PM
I'm not in Palmdale, I was in Apple Valley?

I got a letter in the mail today with the final decision of the planning commission telling me that I will not be approved for a business license for a garage based FFL. This kind of makes me chuckle since I am in the process of moving to North Orange County. :D It was worth a shot and didn't cost me any money so lesson learned.

Capt. Speirs
02-05-2010, 6:56 AM
When I applied for my 01 FFL for a home based business, the Zoning department signed off on it. The Business License department said it would probably not be approved by the City PD, since they denied 3 others that tried in the past 10 years. I politely told them that it would be discrimination since they allow Tupperware and Amway type businesses. The license department manager said good luck and she would support me by making a phone call to the PD. 2 weeks later it was approved.

02-07-2010, 8:52 AM
I politely told them that it would be discrimination since they allow Tupperware and Amway type businesses.

While illogical, that type of discrimination is not illegal. It is illegal to discriminate on the basis of race, creed, etc but not on "what" is sold. Any city can regulate the sale, manufacture, storage, discharge of guns. There are no constitutional reasons against it. The constitution only protects our right to "bear", not sell, discharge, manufacture, etc.

02-07-2010, 9:34 AM
Being unfair based on the type of business, without a valid reason, is illegal as it does not follow the define rules and regulations.If the people in the city had an irrational fear of tupperware, it would not be legal for them to deny such a business. Government has to follow the rules, although often it does not.

The city can have additional requirements due to security or other valid reasonable issues. They can not ban Amway, but allow for Tupperware.

LA County (excluding cities in the county) allows home based businesses, but prevents the public from going to the business, which prevents a FFL from doing transfers. You could operate by selling and shipping though, but most likely you would be denied the required permits. I had an issue because I lived in LA County, but lived in a city which still had the county issue the permits. I was lied to by the LA County saying that they did not issue the permits, but when I told them to page the LA Sheriff in charge of firearms businesses, the person called someone and was told to give me the application.

02-07-2010, 12:29 PM
did you say Manufacture ?? that could raise some red flags.

02-07-2010, 5:41 PM
Being unfair based on the type of business, without a valid reason, is illegal as it does not follow the define rules and regulations.If the people in the city had an irrational fear of tupperware, it would not be legal for them to deny such a business. Government has to follow the rules, although often it does not.

OK, then what law did they violate? Unless there is a law that says a business license is "must issue" then you are incorrect. You cannot go to the DA without an ordinance number or a specific state law that was broken. Just because a business is not forbidden by statute, does not prevent a city from denying you a license. In that case, your only recourse is the courts.

02-08-2010, 10:11 AM
If you have recourse in the courts and win, then they violated something. Government often does what it wants and it is hard to get them to do the right thing unless you have money, but that does not mean that what they are doing is correct or legal. they just get away with it.

You would have to go through the municipal code to determine what they are violating.

02-08-2010, 4:19 PM
If you win a case in civil court that forces the city to issue you a license, no lawbreaking is shown. Lawbreaking is addressed in criminal court.

If you claim that an act was illegal, you must be able to point to a law that was broken. If you cannot find a law in your city that allows gun sales, you cannot claim that their denial of your request is illegal.

Does a city have the right to deny a license to a legal activity? Maybe not, but denying a license is not illegal unless there is a state law on it.

02-08-2010, 4:27 PM
Interesting. You think that they have to specifically allow for a firearms business? If they allow for businesses, they have to specifically ban firearms or it would be allowed.

If you already have a business, they can not just decide that they don't want it, the term is "grandfathered". Yes, governments do that and need to be recalled and sued.

Each city has different laws. They have to show that such a business is not allowed. If you want to let the government control your life, then so be it, but people can fight such things and telling people to be sheeple is not the way to go.

02-09-2010, 4:33 AM
The city does not have to specifically allow for a fire arms business. They can simply refuse to grant a license for whatever businesses they do not want in the community. If they do not want your already established business, they could refuse to issue a new license the next time it comes up for renewal. There is nothing that was removed from you, they simply refused to give you something (the license). You would have no claim of them taking something from you without due process. Upon challenge in the courts, the judge might issue an injunction requiring them to license you. The city could then make your activity illegal, then there is nothing the judge could do to help you short of finding their action unconstitutional. For example: They city might ban black barber shops. That would violate the CA and US constitutions.

It would not violate the US constitution for the city to deny you a permit for a firing range, manufacturing facility or gunsmith shop. Those activities are not protected under the Constitution. Only the bearing of arms is protected. Maybe you want to start a business to train people how to safely handle a gun. It would involve bearing an arm but not firing it or modifying it. And even then, you might have to go all the way to the supreme court to get relief. As they just did in DC. Even then the city can impose reasonable restrictions.

What generally happens is that some guy comes up with an idea for a business that does not violate any city law but is simply undesirable. (Bikini barristas) The city hem haws and refuses to issue a license. The guy goes to court and the judge issues an order for the city to show good cause not to license the business. The city cannot do that, so they simply pass an ordinance prohibiting the business. Unless the business is protected under the constitution, you are out of luck.

In my city, I went in to get a license to manufacture fire arms. There was no law against it here (Albany, GA). They did not want it here, but they knew it was not illegal, so they simply made me jump through all the hoops and six months later I got a license for "Sporting goods/jewelry". Now I am manufacturing firearms, and every one is happy. What is interesting is that the ATF gave me my 07 based upon a business license application that said "Fire arms manufacturing" but never came back insisting on a license that specifically referred to gun making. Once the city got a copy of the 07 they were happy to license me but not willing to give me a license that said "firearms manufacturing". They do not want their register of business types to have fire arms manufacturing on it. I guess it keeps them out of the spot light. It will be interesting to see what the ATF says in two years when my 07 comes up for renewal and I show them a business license with only Sporting goods on it. I will bet that they ask for a letter from the city certifying that they are OK with a gun factory in town. The city is OK with it, I know, but it just seems like a bit of Kabuki theater to me.

02-09-2010, 10:57 AM
Well, it seems clear that you think that City Government is free to do anything that they want and don't have to follow any rules and can decide to no issue a license because they don't like you, as there is no law against that.

The fact is that they have to treat everyone the same and they have rules in which they must follow and due to that they can not legally refuse to issue a license for arbitrary reasons.

02-09-2010, 5:59 PM
I don't "think" anything. I cite the law, common practice, facts and logic. I also do not maintain that a city can deny you a license for an arbitrary reason. They can try, they will try. Sometimes you have to be persistent, sometimes you need to get a lawyer. Your insistence that they are breaking a law if they deny you a license arbitrarily is unproven. I would like to see the rules that they must follow. Can you show me a "must issue" law?

02-12-2010, 11:42 AM
what you need to do is apply for a home/office occupancy permit. you just say you have a small room in your house and use it for paperwork, phone calls, computer etc. same as a contractor may. but you CANT "manufacture" guns or sell them from your house in a residential neighborhood. thats common sence. (and the law in most cities) smae as you wouldnt want your neighbor opening up an AUtobody paint shop next door to you.

02-12-2010, 12:43 PM
after you exhaust your administrative appeals, you can file a lawsuit (actually an application for writ of mandate) to force the city to issue a license IF your proposed use would comply with all laws and there is no basis for the gov't to exercise its discretion to deny the license. If you do not exhaust your administrative appeals, you cannot sue.

It is really a matter of zoning.

and to respond to other posters: if a use conforms to zoning and all other applicable laws, a license cannot be denied. it is not correct to put it in CCW terms of "shall issue" though and it is not a constitutional issue as presented. (but it can be a constitutional issue under many circumstances)

Disclaimer: This ain't legal advice. If it were, it would come with a bill. This is just general information. You should not rely on it as legal advice. You should talk to a lawyer in your area for specific legal advice that you can rely upon.

02-13-2010, 7:17 PM
...if a use conforms to zoning and all other applicable laws, a license cannot be denied.

Is that case law somewhere? That would be my guess. City Clerks are probably aware of it. They can probably cite the ruling.

02-13-2010, 8:00 PM
I see you are in GA. Most lf the laws are state specific, so California state law will not help you in GA.
In CA there is lots of law on this. But it is not like a statute that you can cite to the clerk and resolve everything. I can almost guarantee you that the city clerks are not versed on the law, they just follow the set procedures. That is certainly the case in CA.
You might be surprised to find that most cases involve strip clubs, but when you think about it that makes sense since no one want a strip club in the neighborhood, but there is enough money involved to make a legal fight worthwhile.