Business Meetings

Doing Business

Palo Alto is a draw for start-ups and established businesses as well. Maybe it's because Silicon Valley was born here, in a humble garage on Addison Ave, where Bill Hewlett and David Packard began their little business in 1938.

The city gets top marks from business for a number of reasons. For retailers such as Stanford Shopping Center and others, the area offers excellent demographics with cultural diversity and high household incomes. Palo Alto is a lively city, with a daytime population of 120,000 people who frequent local restaurants, coffee houses , and shops. At night, Palo Alto is a regional draw for its cultural events, top-rated restaurants and nightlife.

Palo Alto businesses enjoy the efficient utility services provided by the city. This is possible because Palo Alto had the foresight to invest in its own municipal utilities back in 1896. Modern services include a dark fiber infrastructure that provides ultra-fast Internet access.

With its international reputation as a leader in technological development, and its California-heritage tradition, Palo Alto is an extraordinary place to operate a business.

Do I need a License or Permit?

The City has no Business License requirements for most businesses located in, or contracted to do business, in the City. For businesses occupying commercial property, a one-time certificate of use and occupancy is likely required. You can find the application here .

Some businesses and special events do require special permits issued by the Police Department. If you are planning a special event, click here .

If you would like to search a partial list of special business permits, click here .

Are businesses allowed out of one's home?

The City Code does allow for certain types of small businesses to be operated from one's home, as long as the employees working from the home reside there. Generally, this does not allow for any type of business that relies on customer visits, heavy equipment or emissions, signage , or takes up more than 25% of the dwelling (or 500 square feet, whichever is lesser). For our specific guidelines, please search our City Code [ ] section 18.42.060 (Home Occupation)

Palo Alto Business Associations

City of Palo Alto Utilities is Here to Help Your


Welcome to Zero Waste Palo Alto

Zero Waste Palo Alto's mission is to help the community reach its Zero Waste goal of virtually eliminating waste being burned or buried. Zero Waste goes beyond recycling – it's a systems approach that first seeks to eliminate waste wherever possible, and then manages discards through reuse and recycling.

Zero Waste

  • Recognizes that "waste" is not inevitable
  • Recognizes that discarded materials are valuable resources
  • Goes beyond "end of pipe" strategies
  • Maximizes recycling and composting
  • Improves consumption
  • Designs "waste" out of the system
  • Requires participation by the whole community

Attempting to eliminate waste is an ambitious goal, but there are actions everyone in the community can take to help achieve Zero Waste. Take a look around our site and learn the various ways you can make Zero Waste a reality. We have a variety of resources to help you get started!

Special Business Permits

Special permits and licenses are issued by the Palo Alto Police Department. The Police Department accepts applications and issues permits for businesses and activities, including but not limited to:

  • Peddlers and solicitors
  • Taxi cabs
  • Massage parlors
  • Closing out sales
  • Private parties
  • Any street closure
  • Any film production shoot
  • Any erected tent with more than 400 square feet
  • Any encroachment on City property
  • Any noise source not covered by the Municipal Code
  • Street vendors who sell flowers and food for immediate consumption

For more information, and to obtain a special permit, please contact the Police Department at 650-329-2147.

Stanford Research Park

For additional information on the Stanford Research Park, please send an email to Holly Lee: or call (650) 724-4909.

Why Stanford?

The Stanford Research Park at Stanford University is home to an extraordinary number of success stories.

Founded in 1951, through the foresight of Stanford Dean of Engineering Frederick Terman and others, the Park was the first of its kind and became the cornerstone of what would eventually be known as Silicon Valley.

Over the years, it has continued to attract some of the most successful and respected technology companies in the world. For companies on the leading edge of technology, the Park provides critical access to extraordinary talent, creativity and innovation.

From early electronic pioneers Bill Hewlett and David Packard, to brilliant physicists Russell and Sigurd Varian, to today's technology innovators, many accomplished scientists and entrepreneurs have found that the Stanford Research Park offers a productive environment in which to grow ideas and build companies.

For more information, please refer to this short video about the Stanford Research Park.

The University Connection

Today, the Stanford Research Park has a world-class reputation as one of the largest and best known parks of its kind in the world, offering its companies a special set of benefits.

First and foremost, as part of the Stanford community, the Park offers access to one of the world's finest research universities .

Of special value to industry is the opportunity to form close relationships with Stanford faculty and students, who are just a short bicycle ride away.

There are a number of both informal and formal connections a company may foster. For example a company is able to:

  • Sponsor joint research projects with Stanford faculty and students
  • Conduct seminars and workshops that encourage the exchange of technical information
  • Offer internships to students
  • Recruit Stanford graduates
  • Invite faculty to join corporate boards
  • Retain faculty as consultants
  • Consult with Stanford's Office of Technology Licensing
  • Obtain access to the University Library systems.

There are also two successful, well established mechanisms that encourage industry-university interaction:

  • The Stanford Center for Professional Development connects working professionals worldwide to the research and teaching of Stanford University faculty in the School of Engineering and related academic departments. Qualified individuals may study for master of science degrees on a part-time basis, pursue graduate and professional certificates, take individual graduate and professional courses , participate in workshops, and view free online seminars. Courses are delivered online, on the Stanford campus, and at the work site.
  • The Stanford Affiliates Program can be of special value to corporations. Affiliates programs offer proven, convenient and direct means of communication between faculty and Research Park company scientists and engineers.

Managed by faculty members, each affiliate program offers individual contact between the representatives of a company and the faculty and students in the program.

The Location

The Stanford Research Park is located in the City of Palo Alto, adjacent to the Stanford University campus. Twenty miles north of downtown San Jose and 32 miles south of San Francisco, the Park's Silicon Valley location provides easy access to the vast array of business, educational and cultural opportunities available at Stanford, in Silicon Valley and around the Bay Area.

The Environment

The Stanford Research Park is located on flat to rolling terrain.
California's warm sun turns the surrounding foothills golden during the spring and summer, and in the winter, refreshing rains turn the landscape a vibrant shade of green.
Large landscaped setbacks throughout the Park provide a campus-like setting.

The Community

Palo Alto and its neighbors are highly desirable communities offering an impressive array of public services, libraries and theaters, fine restaurants, top-rated schools, executive housing, and bustling retail centers. Palo Alto provides a number of benefits to its businesses such as low-cost, city-owned utility service, excellent police and fire protection, no payroll or business taxes, and well-maintained infrastructure.

This friendly community offers an appealing work environment and lifestyle for high technology professionals and their families.





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