Seen as a victory for small business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 403 into law on June 29.
The bill broadens which businesses are considered “home-based” and preempts local government regulation beyond standard zoning laws and homeowners’ association rules. It prevents local governments from creating regulations that vary from town to town and affect home-based businesses.
The bill provides that a home-based business may operate in an area zoned for residential use and may not be treated differently from other businesses in a local government’s jurisdiction.
It includes criteria that home-based businesses must meet to operate in an area zoned for residential use. Those criteria, along with a full summary of the bill, are found here.
The National Federation of Independent Business’s Executive Director for Florida Bill Herrle said in a statement following passage of the bill, “Small business is the foundation of Florida’s economy, and a lot of those businesses began in people’s homes, in their garages, or around the kitchen table. We believe entrepreneurs have a right to create and operate businesses at home as long as those businesses don’t bother their neighbors or violate local zoning ordinances. House Bill 403 would stop local governments from creating a patchwork quilt of confusing and conflicting rules and regulations that would affect home-based businesses beyond ordinary zoning laws and homeowners’ association rules.”
He said that DeSantis’ signing of the bill into law clears the way for more entrepreneurs to create businesses and jobs.
But local mayors and the Florida League of Cities were pushing the governor to veto the bill.
The Florida League of Cities Executive Director Jeannie Garner wrote a letter to DeSantis asking for a veto.
She said if the bill becomes law, it will significantly preempt Home Rule powers and the ability of local government to balance competing property rights. Additionally, the bill will void existing local ordinances or regulations that have tailored unique solutions to homeowner and business concerns.
“While Florida’s cities support entrepreneurship, they must balance the desire to operate a home-based business with the potential impacts on residential neighborhoods and residential property values. Zoning is an inherent function of local government. The primary purpose of zoning is to minimize incompatible uses and balance competing property rights. In practice, zoning is used to prevent new development or uses from unfairly interfering with existing uses,” Garner wrote.
She said her organization worked with legislators on the legislation, but the final bill “drastically departs from this compromise.”
The League of Cities wanted what it called “common-sense” limitations on hours of operation; for local governments to place limits on signage, exterior storage, and traffic generated by the businesses; and to prohibit business activities from occurring within view of the street.