Holy mole! Alameda considers rules for cottage food operations

Holy mole! Alameda considers rules for cottage food operations

Michele Ellson

Alameda’s home-based bread-bakers and nut-makers could soon have the opportunity to sell their wares if policy-makers approve new rules allowing budding food-based businesses to operate out of residents’ homes.

The Planning Board is set to consider the rules Monday in the wake of a new state law permitting home-based businesses to make and sell certain foods, either directly or through markets or restaurants.

The new law permits home-based food merchants to make and sell certain baked goods and candy; dried fruit, pasta and baking mixes; granola, jellies, nut mixes, popcorn and other foods that don’t require refrigeration. It was written in acknowledgment of Americans’ growing interest in healthier, locally processed foods and to help home-based entrepreneurs provide for their families during difficult economic times, a legislative analysis of the new law says.

The law permits cottage food operations earning up to $35,000 this year, an amount that grows to $50,000 in 2015. Similar laws have been enacted in 31 other states, the analysis says.

People who prepare or package the food products will be required to complete a food processor course, and those who sell to restaurants and retailers must obtain a permit from the county health department and submit to an initial kitchen inspection, a fact sheet on the law says.

Operators must also follow a list of safety and sanitation rules, and the labels on their products must offer most of the same information about their ingredients and allergens as commercial food products.

State law allows cottage food operators to employ an additional person in their home-based businesses, a privilege city staff says should be extended to all home-based businesses.

Also on the agenda, the Planning Board will conduct additional design review of lofts and other multifamily buildings that are part of the Alameda Landing development, and of 11 commercial buildings planned for the development, including an anticipated Safeway store.

The Planning Board meets at 7 p.m. in council chambers on the third floor of City Hall, 2263 Santa Clara Avenue. The meeting will be televised on Comcast cable channel 15 and AT&T cable channel 99 and webcast on the city’s website.