Well, not entirely. It’s just that if you do have a home office, you aren’t allowed to meet with anyone in it.
Legislation to accommodate home-based businesses went down in resounding defeat on second reading at the Metro Council Tuesday night, giving a victory to opponents who argued the bill would threaten the sanctity of neighborhoods.
“This is just a bad bill,” Metro Councilman Carter Todd said before the council voted 21-11, with five abstentions, to defeat it.
At issue was an ordinance introduced by Councilman Mike Jameson that sought to update the city’s antiquated home occupation code to protect those Nashvillians, who unknowingly, are illegally operating businesses from their homes.
Existing Metro law already allows residents to operate businesses from their houses, but it doesn’t permit patrons to visit for business purposes. Thus, home-based piano teachers, architects and others who have clients stop by violate the law.
“We went through the zoning codes of every comparable city in the United States,” Jameson said. “There is not a single city in the United States that flatly prohibits clients and patrons on site.”
Jameson filed a different version of the bill earlier this year but withdrew it to get further input from citizens. But even after 11 community meetings, an updated bill with various safeguards approved by the Metro Planning Commission and promises to make further accommodations, the bill failed to overcome criticism.
“If you put lipstick on a pig, you’ve still got a pig,” Councilman Jim Gotto said.
A local TV news report on this story said residents who spoke out against the bill were worried that their attorney neighbors might try to meet with criminal clients, including . . . wait for it . . . accused sex offenders. (Is there nothing they don’t ruin?)
I’m not sure how this is supposed to be enforced. Let’s say you’re an attorney or an architect who doesn’t have a home office, but you’re running late and can’t get in to your office downtown. So you ask a client to drop by your home to sign some papers. Are you in violation of the law?
All of this means that if you’d like to give some piano or guitar lessons on the side here in Music City, and you’d like to do so without fear of getting fined, you’ll have to shell out for space in an area zoned for commercial use. (That comes with a piano!) Which really kinda’ defeats the purpose of giving lessons on the side.
It also pretty much strangles the dream of running a shoestring start-up out of your home until you start making enough money to afford office space.