Citrus Heights Sentinel Logo

Citrus Heights looking at options to make business licensing faster, easier

city hall, Citrus Heights

Sentinel staff report–
The City of Citrus Heights is currently exploring options to streamline its business licensing process, with a goal to make licensing faster and easier for business owners in the city. Currently, business licenses in Citrus Heights can only be obtained and renewed each year by mailing in a check and application, or personally dropping it off at city hall.

“Quicker, faster, cheaper, easier,” is how Senior Planner Casey Kempenaar summed up what he’d like to see happen with business licensing in Citrus Heights. Through implementing one of several online tech options currently being researched by city staff, he said he’d like to significantly cut down on processing time and make it so business owners won’t have to come to city hall to apply or renew a license.

Kempenaar, who took charge of business licensing at city hall last month, said specific changes to the licensing process are yet to be determined, but the goal is to make the licensing process the “most-user friendly we can have.” He said some features being looked at are having an online payment aspect and a print-from-home option to print licenses.

Kempenaar told The Sentinel on Wednesday that the city is currently looking at best practices being used by other cities, which vary widely in how they handle business licensing.

Elk Grove already has an almost-entirely automated online business licensing system that enables most business owners to have a print-from-home temporary license in hand after submitting a short, 10-minute application online at

Other cities, like the City of Dana Point in Southern California, have free or low-cost “business registration” programs instead of licensing, which enable cities to collect demographic data about local businesses and assist officials in contacting business owners in the event of an emergency. Others require a revenue-based “Business Operations Tax” instead of a license, and others offer a lifetime business license rather than requiring annual renewal.

The City of Lafayette in the Bay Area has not required businesses to be licensed ever since the city incorporated in 1968, and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors deleted its requirement for businesses to obtain a license in 1998.

While not all cities require business licenses, Kempenaar said Citrus Heights’ purpose in licensing is “to ensure businesses are operating within our zoning requirements and located in places they should be, which protects the safety and welfare of those around them.”

Asked how Lafayette handles zoning without requiring business licenses, Administrative Services Director Tracy Robinson told The Sentinel that businesses are still required to follow the city’s land use and zoning regulations.

“It’s not been a problem,” said the Lafayette administrative director. “It’s not like we don’t control [zoning] just because we don’t have a business license fee.”

Related: “Editorial: Citrus Heights is a business-friendly city; but it could do better”

Licenses for most businesses in Citrus Heights currently cost $51 to renew each year, with an extra $25 processing fee charged for new businesses. Kempenaar said the city is not proposing any changes to fees or adding a new business tax.

Local changes to business licensing are expected to be finalized and implemented sometime next year.

Among other changes, business licensing in Citrus Heights recently changed from being under the city’s finance division and is now under the community and economic development division. The move was one of many internal changes made by City Manager Christopher Boyd after he replaced Henry Tingle as manager last October.

Like local news? Sign up for The Sentinel’s free email edition and get two emails a week with all local news and no spam, ever. (Click here)