Doing Business in Alameda

Starting a Business

Alameda is an excellent place to start your business, whether you are looking for talented employees or discerning consumers. The City offers a highly educated work force and a $960 million annual household demand. Not only does Alameda outrank surrounding cities in terms of income and education, we also offer significant advantages with one of the lowest business license tax rates in the area and competitive lease rates for office, R&D, and commercial spaces.

Business Improvement Area

The Webster Street Business Improvement Area (BIA) is a district defined by City ordinance that includes the Webster Street Business District and Alameda Landing. This BIA is managed by West Alameda Business Association (WABA) with an executive director and board whose mission is to promote West Alameda with activities and marketing which will generate more foot traffic, increase sales, promote members’ businesses and increase the public goodwill and atmosphere in West Alameda. We seek to use these activities to increase the vitality of Webster Street and West Alameda as well as to preserve Webster Street Business District’s historic character. Every year, the City Council re-adopts the BIAs and sets the levies that become "dues" for businesses in the BIA and automatically makes them members of WABA (see www.alamedaca.gov/business/business-improvement-areas).

The BIA is the major source of funding for these activities. WABA will continue its current activities and implement others that follow the Main Street Four-Point Approach established by the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Facade Grant for Webster Street Business

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.

To learn more about the program, view details and guidelines on the city’s website.

Alameda's Green Initiatives

Mandatory Recycling & Composting - The City of Alameda is a fully opted-in jurisdiction of the County's Mandatory Recycling Ordinance. Businesses, and multifamily properties of 5 units or more, must have adequate recycling and composting service.

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.

Straws On Request - Effective January 1, 2018, commercial food vendors may only provide straws upon a customer’s request.

For more information on Alameda’s Green Initiatives, go to: alamedaca.gov/go-green

 

Storefronts & Signs

Businesses & Buildings in the Webster Street District

Webster Street still retains many of distinctive late 19th and early 20th century buildings. These give much of Webster Street the image of a traditional business district with a historic appeal.

Permits filed with the City of Alameda for changes to existing buildings, new construction, signs, and updates to the storefronts will also be reviewed by the Design Committee of West Alameda Business Association for comments and approval by comparison to the Webster Street Design Manual.

The Webster Street Design Manual seeks to enhance this traditional image. The Manual can be found at: alamedaca.gov/sites/default/files/department-files/2013-04-23/bus_-_bia_-_webster_street_design_manual.pdf

WABA's Design Committee members are available to help businesses and property owners with guidance to make the design approval process easier during and after the design concept. Please contact Linda Asbury, Executive Director, for more information at (510) 523-5955 or Linda@WestAlamedaBusiness.com.

 

Temporary Signage - Although the City does not require a permit for temporary signs, there are still code enforcement guidelines that need to be followed. The rules are in place to uphold the attractiveness and safety of the district.

These are a few of the most common rules:

Portable Freestanding Signs (“A” Frame Signs) must be kept within the first 3 feet of the business’ building face. The maximum size is 4 ft in height and 3 ft in width.

Window Signs cannot be larger than 10 sq ft, and should not occupy more than 25% of the area of any one window.
Sale Signs / Grand Opening Signs are only allowed for a maximum of 30 consecutive days.

Temporary signage regulations can be found in the Alameda Municipal Code (AMC) Chapter 30-6 Sign Regulations: www.municode.com/library/ca/alameda