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League Urges Gov. Jerry Brown to Veto “Cottage Food” Bill AB 1616

Creates Zoning and Health and Safety Inspection Concerns

September 12, 2012

The League has requested that the Governor veto AB 1616 (Gatto), which would require cities to issue permits to “cottage food operations” that operate out of a residence and deem them to be a permitted use of residential property for local zoning, building, and fire codes. Cities are encouraged to also send veto request letters immediately.


While the League recognizes the author’s attempt to encourage the growth of these particular small businesses, the effect of the measure is to undercut local zoning policies. Neighbors who do not wish to be located next door to a business may be disturbed by increased traffic, noise and odors that could be produced from cottage food operations. Local governments should be able to balance the impacts of such businesses on adjacent residents by regulating: permitted location, hours of operation, on-site sales, inspections and advertising. Absent local zoning guidelines, the residential character of a neighborhood could be eroded. 

By singling out one specific type of business, the bill also raises questions as to why other small businesses, such as family day care, auto repair, cabinet making and other businesses are not allowed to run similarly. There is a legitimate reason why commercial zones have been established for business purposes.

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.  In some communities and neighborhoods such uses may be appropriate, in others, they may not. Unfortunately, AB 1616 inserts the state into a matter that should be left to local governments to resolve.

The League’s letter and a sample request for veto letter are available on the League’s website by typing “AB 1616” into the search box.

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