Letter to the Editor: Change law to allow home businesses to employ one non-resident employee

Dear Editor:

Small businesses often start at home. Small businesses usually start with one person, the home owner, who resides in the home.

Businesses grow, and the owner might like to have an employee or two come to his home and work there with him as one stage in proving whether the business will succeed. Only when the business is doing well will the owner take on the burden of paying rent and move his business and his or her one or two employees out of his home into an outside office.

But there is a problem in Lynnwood. The owner of a home based business cannot legally bring in any outside employees, not even one. He can employ his wife or children or any number of people who come to live in his home, but no one who lives outside his home. A lawyer cannot even bring in one part-time secretary to help him out. I know because I work from home. Fortunately, I have my wife Emelyn working for me as my secretary, bookkeeper, and motivator.

The Lynnwood City Code Section 21.42.300 says:

No one other than members of the resident household may perform labor or personal services on the premises.

I regard this as an overly restrictive rule, one which makes it hard for a start-up small business to pass through to the stage where the business is able to afford rented office space.

Neighboring cities are not so restrictive.

The Seattle City Code Section 23.42.050 says:

Except for licensed child care programs, no more than two persons who are not residents of a dwelling unit on the lot may work in a home occupation, regardless of whether the persons work full or part-time or are compensated.

The Mountlake Terrace City Code Section 19.120.230 says:

On-site operations of a home occupation must be conducted solely by the full-time resident(s) of the dwelling unit, except that one on-site nonresident employee is allowed.” 19.120.230 Home occupations.

The Brier City Code Section 17.12.040 says:

The home occupation must be carried on by resident(s) of the dwelling with not more than three nonresident persons being employed on a full-time basis or the equivalent of full-time hours.

If Lynnwood is to be more friendly to business startups, it should allow at least one non-resident employee to come to a business owner’s home and work there.

Bill Gates and Paul Allen started Microsoft in Bill’s garage, but they could not have started it in a garage in Lynnwood, because Lynnwood would not have allowed it.

I say change the code and allow at least one non-resident employee to work in a home based business.

James Robert Deal – Lynnwood Attorney

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