Tuesday, January 17, 2012

All Up In Your Business

The City of Dunwoody is preparing to go scatter-brained on us again taking up an issue that will  make the "Chicken Coup" look like an argument about the relative merits of Gerber over Blackwood. The issue at hand is whether to change existing ordinance to allow limited customer contact in residential areas for home-based businesses. The anti-business crowd is offering up unsubstantiated anecdotal "evidence" of the evils of these businesses while others, some who run home-based businesses, suggest this is an intentionally hysterical miss-characterization of modern SOHO business.

While there's enough silliness in our Smart City to make this really interesting there are some areas of common ground. Residential is residential, not retail and certainly not industrial. No signs, and especially no neon signs no matter how noble that gas. No heavy machinery, nor mining, nor noxious fumes. You cannot expect to run a creosote plant in your basement. So, to be clear: NO LEMONADE STANDS in any neighborhood. No slurp without a SLUP.

But then it gets really silly. The anti-business crowd uses the "N-word". No, not THAT N-word, the OTHER N-word. NUISANCE. They assert these businesses will all be nuisances. Cars coming and going. And stopping, perhaps to stay, perhaps for a day. And the deliveries. OMG! This will not be Christmas in July. They're talking deliveries week in, week out, maybe two, three times a week. Nuisance. Each and every one.

But with online shopping home deliveries are the new norm. And can friends or relatives not visit? Can you not host your brother AND your parents, each with separate cars or must they stay in a nearby hotel? What about for just a day? OK, maybe longer? On the nuisance scale how is that any different or if not different, lesser, than a potential customer dropping by to sign their tax returns? Both are rather seasonal aren't they? And what if this "customer" is also a friend and you gossip a bit over a coffee? Does the five minutes of "business" taint the entire encounter? What if you both attend DUMC? Does that make it better?

Or suppose you are hosting the weekly bridge night. Six other couples, probably THREE cars. Is this more or less of a nuisance than that customer stopping by at 10AM? Is the city going to shut the game down because there are three cars parked on the street? Or only if you host it every week? Or, no, because this isn't business (if you believe that you've not played bridge).

Then there is the other, heretofore unmentioned classification: office. Residential isn't office. Or is it? Anybody out there telecommute? Show of hands. Good. Now just the "smart" folks. Amazing isn't? Look at all the folks in Dunwoody who telecommute. Especially all the smart ones. Where do you suppose they sit whilst telecommuting? Oh, right, that would be what is in the vernacular a "Home Office". But telecommuting is not really "a business in Dunwoody" or the City would be demanding payment of the occupation tax on the percentage of top line revenue based on the employee contribution and percentage of home-based work, wouldn't they?

And it is telecommuting that offers a perfectly legal solution to the problem some seek to solve by going off the grid, though they will find that running their business without a license won't work. While this City may not have the wherewithall to publish radar sign data, rest assured they will get the Georgia Secretary of State's records and track your ass down. And "don't ask, don't tell" relies on a City policy of "Enforce Upon Complaint", which while this is defacto City Chicken policy, it is an incredibly bad policy and is probably unreliable as well.

So you may not be able to set up "corporate headquarters" in your home office, but you could telecommute. All you have to do is move your business to a "suite". You know, like the ones at PostNet. Just make sure it is not in THIS city. You'll want to "re-locate" to a nearby area, say, perhaps, Gwinnett county. Close. Lower taxes. Less hassle. And you get to tell City Hall to PUFO because you're no longer running a home-based business in Dunwoody. Just ask the Secretary of State for the mailing address of the corporation. That puts you off their radar because you are working for company located in unincorporated Gwinnett and you telecommute. A lot.

Oh, and if a "business associate" happens to stop by for a Cup o' Joe, well that was just a pleasant chat now wasn't it?