Council Chambers, Legislative Bldg, 745 4th Street, Sparks, NV
General Business: 9.11
Title 20 of the Sparks Municipal Code (SMC) regulates and restricts the use of land and controls the location, soundness, and use of structures, to promote the public health, safety, morals, convenience, and general welfare of the community.
A Home Occupation Permit (HOP) may be issued in the City of Sparks, as in many communities, to provide residents the opportunity to work from home in a manner that does not compromise the integrity of a residential zoning district. SMC 20.03.020 provides a mechanism for a person to conduct a business within a dwelling unit provided the business is clearly secondary and incidental to the residential use.
There are currently 518 addresses within the City of Sparks that have been issued HOPs. Occasionally, citizens report violations of the SMC governing a HOP, and typically the violations fall under the purview of the City’s Code Enforcement division. SMC 20.03.020 regulates issuance and use of a HOP. Code Enforcement refers to SMC 20.03.020when determining whether violations of HOP requirements are occurring.
SMC 20.03.020(C)(3) provides the Administrator the ability to revoke the HOP if the applicant violates any standard provided in SMC 20.03.020.
On October 28, 2019, the Sparks City Council considered an appeal of the City Manager’s revocation of a HOP that permitted the operation of a business at 3396 LaVeaga Court in the SF6 (Single Family Residential) zoning district. In the period since issuance of the HOP, this address incurred nine violations of various provisions of the SMC. Some of the violations were of SMC 20.03.020 and others of SMC Chapter 7.16 (Nuisances). Violation notices were sent directly to the property owner, who was not the same person as the holder of the HOP. The City Council expressed concern about revoking the HOP given ambiguity in the SMC as to how the revocation provision applies when the property owner and the holder of the HOP are not the same person. On that basis, the City Council overturned the City Manager’s revocation of the HOP and directed the City Manager to propose amendments to the HOP section of the SMC, including a provision to allow revocation of a HOP issued for an address with other, non-HOP, violations of the SMC.
At its February 6, 2020 meeting, the Planning Commission voted to forward to the City Council a recommendation of approval for the proposed amendments to Title 20.
SMC 20.03.020 provides Sparks residents the opportunity to conduct a home occupation in a residential zoning district provided the use does not change the residential character of the dwelling unit.
There are currently 10 standards in SMC 20.03.020 for operation of a HOP that promote the protection of residential neighborhoods. These include, but are not limited to, the following:
- the HOP is a secondary and incidental use of the dwelling;
- the garage may not be used for the HOP;
- no more than 20 percent of the living area can be committed to the HOP;
- the use shall not be visible from outside of the dwelling unit;
- no more than five clients may visit the site during per day; and
- no employees of the HOP may work at the dwelling.
Based on the City Council’s October 28, 2019 discussion and direction to the City Manager, staff drafted changes to SMC 20.03.020 (Exhibit 1) for review by the Planning Commission and possible approval by the City Council. The proposed changes address the issuance, use, compatibility, and revocation of HOPs, and are described in the remainder of this staff report.
Currently, SMC 20.03.020(B)(5) permits “Up to five client visits or service deliveries to the home occupation per day.” To further ensure compatibility and promote the residential character of the neighborhood, the proposed amendment would limit the hours of these visits to between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 p.m.,
SMC 20.03.020(B)(7) restricts the business owner from providing any indication of the presence of a business on the exterior of the residence, unless required by federal regulations. The proposed amendment revises the exception to read as follows: “unless required by state or federal law or regulation. The applicant bears the burden of demonstrating that this exception applies to the proposed home occupation.” This would allow a HOP holder to post a sign regarding the business, for example, if required to do so by state or federal law.
Persons wishing to obtain a HOP must submit an application to the City. This application is reviewed administratively for conformance with SMC 20.03.020. This also provides an opportunity for the City to emphasize the regulations applicable to a HOP by attaching the SMC regulations to the application. By signing the application, the applicant acknowledges they have read and understand the regulations pertaining to a HOP and that they will comply with them. The applicant is also attesting to the information they have provided regarding the nature of their home occupation. To further protect the residential character of the neighborhood, standard 11 (Exhibit 1, SMC 20.03.020(B)(1)1) would be revised to state “The business uses of the residence shall be limited to the use described in the home occupation permit application as submitted and approved.” Furthermore, a proposed standard 12 (Exhibit 1, SMC 20.03.020(B)(12)) would limit each dwelling unit to one HOP at any time and further clarifies, “An accessory dwelling unit is not a separate dwelling unit for purposes of this section.”
The proposed change to SMC 20.03.020(C)(2) (Exhibit 1) would require the City to notify an applicant in writing if their HOP application is denied. A denial would stem from a staff decision that the proposed use would not comply with the HOP regulations.
SMC 20.03.020(C)(3) currently indicates a Conditional Use Permit (CUP) could be used to allow a home occupation that does not comply with the use standards of SMC 20.03.020. Other provisions of SMC do not allow for a CUP to grant a use variance. Accordingly, the proposed changes to SMC 20.03.020(C)(3) (Exhibit 1) strike the references to a CUP, eliminating this possibility and potential confusion.
Lastly, as described in the Background section, SMC 20.03.020 does not currently clearly enable the City to revoke a HOP if there are code violations at the subject address. To address this deficiency, the proposed amendment would change 20.03.020(C)(3) to allow revocation of a HOP if, “In any twelve-month period, two or more notices of violation for any violation(s) of this Code are issued to the property on which the home occupation is conducted.” Thus, a HOP could be revoked for violations on the property not otherwise connected to the operation of the business.
The proposed amendments to SMC 20.03.020 are intended to enhance the City’s ability to regulate and, if necessary, revoke HOPs if they operate in violation of the SMC, and thus to strengthen and protect the integrity of residential zoning districts.
This is the first reading of the ordinance to amend the Sparks Municipal Code (Title 20).
This is a first reading. No motion is required.
01-Ordinance and Exhibit 1.pdf
CA-4-19 Report of PC Action.pdf