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City looks to allow small cottage food operations in homes
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The city of Ceres is enacting an ordinance which would allow a permit process in order for someone to use their home for a cottage food business.

The Ceres City Council introduced the ordinance last week in response to the state passing AB 1616 into law.

"One of the main purposes for this bill is to allow homeowners/tenants a chance to increase their opportunities for entrepreneur development through small enterprises, which can help to supplement household incomes, prevent poverty, and strengthen local economies," said Associate Planner James Michaels in a staff report to the council.

Once passed, the ordinance will allow the city to issue permits to people who first obtain a business license and food operator's license as long as the kitchen and home complies with reasonable restrictions on concentration, traffic, parking and noise.

The nondiscretionary permit would be issued by Tom Westbrook, the city's Director of Community Development without a public hearing.

The Stanislaus County Health Department would like to be the agency that conducts enforcement procedures should any concerns about food safety arises.

The state defines cottage food operation as one that:

• Has not more than one full-time equivalent employee not including family members;

• Makes gross sales no more than $35,000 per calendar year for 2013 or $45,000 in the 2014 calendar year.