UPDATE:Good news! Governor Brown signed the bill into law yesterday, September 21, 2012.
The California Homemade Food Act, AB 1616 would make it legal to produce non-hazardous foods such as bread and jams in a home kitchen and sell them. The bill is sitting on Governor Brown’s desk awaiting his signature. Unfortunately, the bill is under attack by lobbyists who want to stop entrepreneurial opportunities for small businesses. The League of Cities is itself in league with these anti-small business lobbyists and sent out the following letter:
August 31, 2012
The Honorable Jerry Brown
Governor, State of California
RE: AB 1616 (Gatto) Food Safety: cottage food operations.
Request for Veto
Dear Governor Brown:
The League of California Cities respectfully requests your veto on AB 1616 (Gatto), which would require cities to issue permits to cottage food operations and require those operations to be deemed a permitted use of residential property for zoning purposes, local building, and fire codes.
While the League applauds the author’s attempt to encourage the growth of small businesses, this measure would single out these specific types of businesses for special treatment that other businesses do not receive. The League has a longstanding policy of protecting local zoning as a primary function of cities and an essential component of home rule. State policy should leave local siting and use decisions to the cities and not interfere with local prerogative. Unfortunately, AB 1616 would do just that by requiring local jurisdictions to either classify cottage food operations as a permitted use of residential property for zoning purposes or granting a nondiscretionary permit to use a residence as a cottage food operation. Given that this bill would allow businesses to be conducted out of the home, overall safety and particularly fire safety should be considered, but AB 1616 would deem these businesses residential for the purposes of the State Uniform Building Standards Code and local building and fire codes. This bill threatens to disturb neighbors that did not intend to locate their families next door to a business, deal with the traffic associated with a business, nor the smells that would permeate from a house. Local governments should be able to protect neighborhoods by regulating: hours of operation, the hours of on-site sales, inspections and advertising.
While many jurisdictions would welcome the opportunity to have cottage food businesses in their communities under the right circumstances, this bill wouldn’t give cities the ability to deny those operations permits and would limit the authority of cities to impose restrictions based upon health and safety considerations, such as the fire code. If the author could address the issue of local zoning by reintroducing this issue next year, then this legislation might have some beneficial policy effects.
We urge you to closely review the arguments we advance in opposition to this measure, and respectfully request that you Veto AB 1616.
Lark Park, Deputy Legislative Secretary, Office of Governor Brown
Gareth Elliot, Legislative Affairs Secretary, Office of Governor Jerry Brown
The League apparently wants to stand in the way of individuals, in a period of high unemployment, who want to start small businesses. We need to stop them. I urge you to take a moment and write a letter to Governor Brown saying that you would like California to join many other states around the nation that have made it possible to run a cottage food operation out of a home kitchen. Incidentally, many of those other states, such as Ohio, have far more liberal cottage food bills than the one proposed in California. You can write Governor Brown at:
Governor Jerry Brown
c/o State Capitol, Suite 1173
Sacramento, CA 95814
Actual letters are better than emails in this case.