Updates on The Cottage Food Law: Licenses, ordinances, and the Board Of Supervisors

The Cottage Food Law, which allows the homemade production and sale of certain foods, was passed on Jan 1st. I was so excited because I assumed that people would be able to start getting permits right away, but of course, that is not how government works. I’ve recently started looking into where we are in the process, and wanted to share what I’ve found. It looks like DPH has set their guidelines and has started to issue permits. Before those permits can be official, however, the ordinance needs to be pushed through by the board of supervisors, specifically the Budget and Finance committee (you can check here for updates on the ordinance). To do this, one of the Sups needs to become a sponsor of the ordinance, and then a vote can be called.  This should happen at the end of this month or early May, but in advance of that, The Health Department is taking applications for permits and issuing licenses. DPH (The Department of Public Health) has outlined the structure of the permits on their end. They’ve set the fees at:

Class A:

This permit allows production and direct sale of homemade foods. So if you’re making something and plan only to sell it to people face to face, this is for you:

No application fee

$100 billed to you by city after registration accepted (annual fee)

$127 zoning referral fee (one time cost unless you move) sent in with your application.


Class B:

You’ll need this permit if you want to sell through a secondary market (grocery store, mail order, etc):

$332 application fee (one time cost unless you move) send in with application

$127 zoning referral fee (one time cost unless you move) sent in with application

$350 annual fee billed to you after application accepted.

Personally I’m not sure why there should be a zoning department fee for this ordinance. If you’re not opening a retail store out of your home, it doesn’t seem like it should fall under their jurisdiction. Honestly though, I’m still learning about all this, so we’ll see.

I’ve reached out to David Chiu, the president of the Board Of Supervisors, to get more information about the best way to nudge along the process, and we’ve been discussing different avenues to get people on their way to making (and selling!) their homemade goods.

We’re hosting classes taught by Patricia Kline and Christina Oatfield, both of whom were instrumental in getting the law passed on the state level. They will have more in depth info about what can/cannot be made under the law, and all the info you’ll need to start your home food business. Check here for dates.

This is exciting stuff! I feel like this law is really moving us in a more sane direction on the issue of homemade food. This is a first step.  Once we prove that we can keep people safe, and that small producers are not the ones we need to worry about,  that if anyone should have mandatory inspections it should be huge meat plants—not-home based cookie makers—hopefully we can expand the law to cover all kinds of homemade foods.