Amendments to AB 1616 (Gatto), just taken on Aug. 24, would require cities to issue permits to cottage home-based food businesses. The Legislature passed the bill yesterday and it will go next to Gov. Jerry Brown for his signature or veto. The League is requesting a veto on this bill because it would pose serious health, safety and land use issues for cities.
AB 1616 would require local jurisdictions to either classify cottage food operations as a permitted use of residential property for zoning purposes or grant a nondiscretionary permit to use a residence as a cottage food operation. These food businesses under AB 1616 would be deemed residential for the purposes of the State Uniform Building Standards Code and local building and fire codes. Local governments should be able to protect neighborhoods by regulating: hours of operation, the hours of on-site sales, inspections and advertising.
The bill would require local governments to provide a written request of a breakdown of fees, a list of permits and fees that are required by the jurisdiction, and information about the anticipated length of time for reviewing and processing the permit application, upon request of the applicant. The application for the cottage food operation permits would also be required to have a statement about the applicant’s right to request the written fee verification.
While counties typically provide health inspectors, there are several cities that have health inspectors. AB 1616 would severely limit the ability to inspect cottage food operations. Given that these businesses are being conducted in a privacy of a home, without the public necessarily being able to view the premises, the need to inspect and ensure food safety is greater, not lesser. For Class A permits, local enforcement agencies would only be able to determine compliance if there was a consumer complaint or a reason to suspect a violation. Determining compliance could be exceptionally difficult when local enforcement agencies would not be allowed to inspect.
City officials are urged to send the Governor a veto letter immediately. The League’s veto letter is available on the League’s website by typing “AB 1616” into the search box.