In my quest for equity regarding the blatant discrimination between homeowners with attached garages versus those with detached garages, I find it refreshing that Bayport, MN a little town just north of St. Paul, home to Andersen Windows, actually has a more sensible and equitable municipal code when it comes to "home occupation" than Twin Cities own Saint Paul, Minnesota!
(78) Home Occupation. Any gainful occupation or profession engaged in, at, or from a dwelling unit by the occupant of the dwelling unit. Except for occasional outdoor educational activities, the "home occupation" must be conducted within the dwelling unit, and not within accessory buildings other than a detached garage if the dwelling unit does not have an attached garage*.
With that one addition, Bayport Minnesota trumps Saint Paul Minnesota in terms of permissible innovation!
Saint Paul zoning for whatever asinine reason draws a myopic line in the sand and claims that "all detached garages are accessory buildings and ALL accessory buildings are the same thing" -- no exceptions. See I agree that you might not reasonably expect to be able to operate your home based business out of your toolshed, or greenhouse -- then again, I suppose it depends on what your business is...and clearly your business probably isn't the cities business telling you what you can and can't do on your private property....but hey if they don't want you generating more revenue or increasing the value of your property, or the massive multiplier effect of your spending on other products and services, who am I to argue with a strategy that looks suspiciously akin to having the entire city of Saint Paul Minnesota declared a "superfund site"??
The people that write and enforce these codes need to take a class in semantics at a minimum and ideally philosophy where they might learn that just because you continually call something by a different name, that it does not fundamentally change what it is in essence.
Hey St. Paul Department of Safety and Inspections (aka zoning), a garage is a garage, attached or otherwise.
You see the modifier "attached or detached" enhances "garage". Treating a detached garage as something else discriminates against the people that pay your salaries, and hopefully will continue to agree to fund your pensions....quid pro quo baby, you don't serve us, don't expect us to serve you....
So it turns out that a Google or an Apple COULD happen in a Bayport, Minnesota garage -- just don't expect one to happen in St. Paul, Minnesota anytime soon!
Today's Big Idea: In order to execute your big ideas, you may need to follow Jimmy Buffets advice and seek a change in lattitude. Even if that means moving one city over.
Mea culpa! It turns out that St. Paul could just look at its neighbor Bayport for fresh ideas and not cast that longing gaze at California...
In the mean time I think Bayport, Minnesota is an excellent place to start incubating ideas and companies that will drive tomorrows service and knowledge based economy.
* Underline added to help Zoning Zombies who frequently have at least one eye closed, either due to aversion to daylight, when most work occurs, or because they are distracted by fantasy job-posting boards for positions they can never attain. If only they would consider starting their own ebay business in their detached garage....wait a minute.....
If you live in the city of Saint Paul, MN in a residential (R-4) neighborhood, and if you have a detached garage you're not permitted to use any part of it in support of a home-base business?
However, if your neighbor next door has an attached garage they are more than welcome to use any and all of it in support of their venture!
You read that right: If you have a detached garage in Saint Paul Minnesota, you're essentially a second-class citizen, while your neighbor across the street with their attached or tucked under garage can operate their EBAY or consulting or personal services business to their hearts content. Your neighbor now has a competitive advantage, sanctioned and supported by the City of St. Paul. What you get with your "accessory structure" (aka, detached garage) is a "nastygram" from the city Department of Safety and Inspections. In some cases they might even show up at your house, walk through backyard and attempt to get inside your garage without notice or permission.
Thanks in part to subclause "C" of St. Paul Code, Sec. 65.141. - "Home occupation"
There goes my plans to start collecting and selling vintage 80's sweaters and clothing, or possibly antique cookie jars on EBAY since I would not be allowed to put a desk and computer there or temporarily store any of it in my detached garage because through some arcane zoning magic I don't quite understand, the moment I do, my garage is magically converted into a warehouse (despite the fact that I might have my car or other personal possessions in it at the time) -- while my "neighbors connected-to-the-house-possibly-by-a-breezeway-garage" is still just a plain old garage.
It gets even stranger if you own the property, use it as as second home, rent it for part of the year, it suddenly becomes against city code for you, the owner, to store or use that garage - say for example, hobbies like woodworking, welding, home-brewing etc let alone keeping any of your personal possessions (like the aforementioned vintage 80's sweaters!)
You can't even use the space as a home office. But your neighbor could.
If this isn't a prime example of over zealous and overly restrictive not to mention invasive government, I don't know what is?
What it means is this: A Google or an Apple could never happen in Saint Paul, Minnesota.
At a time when our state is facing down an unprecedented budget shortfall, it begs the question: Does it make ANY sense to restrict jobs and shutdown the economic engines that drive our economy, namely service and knowledge based businesses? Most of which are now operated from peoples homes?
Today's Big Idea is this: "Cities like Saint Paul should take cues from Silicon Valley if they want to encourage innovation and play a role in tomorrows economy. Some of the worlds biggest companies started in garages. Just not in St. Paul"