Guide to Opening a Business in Downtown Santa Monica

Parking and Transportation

No parking is required for any business or new development in Downtown Santa Monica as of July 25, 2017. However, changes of use can trigger bicycle parking and loading area requirements. Also, if you are in the Coastal Zone and you are proposing to change the number of parking spots on site, the Coastal Commission will need to weigh in.


Sustainable Mobility Options

  • Downtown Santa Monica is among the most connected neighborhoods in the region, with a robust transit network, efficient city bike share, and wide, well-lit sidewalks.
  • Metro Business Transit Access Pass Program:
    • Metro's bus and rail network connects Downtown Santa Monica to all of LA County. Metro offers a low cost Annual Employer pass program. This Commuter Benefit significantly reduces the cost of transportation for the employee and acts as a business tax benefit for you.
    • More information on this program can be found here.
  • Blue to Business Program:
    • The Big Blue Bus (BBB) connects DTSM with the Westside and beyond through a network of buses. BBB's Blue to Business program enables employers to save up to 92% on its passes.
    • More information on this program can be found here.

Parking for employees:

  • Over 10,000 publicly-available spaces exist Downtown, with many thousands more available on private property. However, in some cases you may need to identify parking for employee needs. Downtown employees can register for parking validation to receive reduced parking rates in Parking Structures 1 through 6 and 9:
    • Reduced Employee Parking Validation Rates:
    • 6-Hour Validations = $6 (inclusive of grace period)
    • 12-Hour Validations = $9 (inclusive of grace period)
  • Employees must purchase the pass at the SP+ office. Employees may pay with a credit card or check/money order payable to the City of Santa Monica and must bring with them:
    • Proof of employment, which can be any of the following:
      • Current pay stub from a business as defined above
      • Employee ID badge
      • Signed company letterhead from a Downtown commercial establishment/business
    • Valid government-issued photo ID
  • A qualified employee may purchase validations for self only and may not purchase validations for others.
  • Every qualified employee is only allowed to purchase up to 20 validations of any combination per calendar month.
  • Employers are not allowed to purchase validations on behalf of employees.
  • For more information, contact SP+.

Parking for the public: see here.


Also, note that the year-round Farmers' Market takes place Downtown on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This means that:

  • Every Wednesday from 8am to 1pm, Arizona Avenue between 4th Street and Ocean Avenue and part of 2nd Street are closed to traffic.
  • Every Saturday from 8am to 1pm, Arizona Avenue is closed to traffic between 4th and 2nd Street.
  • For more information, see here.

Will you have ten or more employees?

The City of Santa Monica regulates the impact of commuter-based traffic by requiring that businesses that employ ten or more employees participate in a program to reduce vehicle trips. You must submit a transportation plan for your employees to the Transportation Demand Management team.