BRENTWOOD -- City Council members gave tentative approval to an ordinance that residents can sink their teeth into by establishing local regulations for home-based food businesses.

Unanimous approval was given on Tuesday to the ordinance that makes changes to the municipal code to comply with a state law making it legal for people to prepare and package foods such as candy, baked goods, baking mixes, honey, herb blends, jams and jellies, popcorn, condiments, nuts, granola, fruit, tamales, dried fruit and pasta in their home kitchens.

The state law, which went into effect in January 2013, also requires cities and county health departments to set regulations for how these so-called cottage food businesses can operate and be consistent with the law. Among other things, Brentwood's ordinance allows no more than 12 customers a day and restricts sale hours from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays. Outdoor sales are not allowed.

Mayor Bob Taylor thinks home-based food businesses will be good for the city, especially if local residents turn to local farmers for some of their ingredients.

"I see this as a big deal," Taylor said. "So they could actually have goods produced on the farms put together in the cottage kitchen and (then) bring them down to the farmers market and sell them."


Advertisement

Residents who want to have a cottage food operation will have to pay a one-time $50 fee for a home-occupation use permit and $140 for a city business license under the ordinance. The business license would have to be renewed yearly at a cost of $100. Food producers also need to take a food processing training course and meet sanitary conditions in their kitchens.

Brentwood planner Debbie Hill said that the city has received about four applications to open cottage food businesses while other residents have expressed interest.

Hill also said that no taxes are collected on these foods, prompting Taylor to quip: "Believe me, if it starts going good, I can guarantee you the state will do something."

In response to a question on what would happen if someone got sick from a home-based food product, Assistant City Attorney Martin Lysons said a county health officer would inspect the home.

The ordinance will come back for final approval at the council's March 11 meeting and become effective 30 days after final passage.

Contact Eve Mitchell at 925-779-7189. Follow her at Twitter.com/EastCounty_Girl.