Are you in the zone?

zoningBefore you can consider starting a homemade food business, check your zoning by calling your local planning department.  Although AB 1616 specifically states that a city cannot prohibit a cottage food business, the business must still comply with local ordinances re. traffic, noise, parking, signage, etc.  Some towns also require Home Occupancy permits and applications must be included with the business license application.  It’s good to know what your local requirements and limits are before you submit an application.  Zoning regulations in a number of county towns, such as San Marcos, prohibit sales at home (though if the sale is transacted over the phone or internet, and appointments for pickups are scheduled to avoid congestion and parking issues, Cottage Food Sandie wonders if the law would still be enforceable).  Other San Diego cities may prohibit posting signs, having employees who are not household members, or may limit the types of vehicles parked at the premises (e.g. Coronado), or have other restrictions.

Check with your local planning department.  Explain that you intend to start a cottage food business as a result of AB 1616 being signed into law and ask about fees and/or special permits needed.  Whether or not a special Home Occupancy permit is required, most municipalities have laws regulating various aspects of your business. It’s a good idea to know what they are for your area!

The law is designed to let people start a business from their home to reduce the overhead costs, so being zoned as Residential should not be a problem.  In fact, Residential or mixed Residential/Commercial zoning may be required for a cottage industry.  In Imperial Beach, no additional permits will be required as long as no building improvements or renovations are required.  Many cities are just learning about the law, so now is a good time to let them know you are looking into it. That should spur them into action!

For a list of San Diego cities with links to their business licenses and home occupancy permits (if required) see HERE.



    • Allison on December 2, 2013 at 2:30 pm
    • Reply

    I read that my products need to have detailed labels with ingredients. However, if I am making cupcakes, candies and pastries that are for parties and events so they are not individually packaged. Do I need labels for those items? Would it just be a stick-on label that would go on a box with multiple items inside?

    1. You would need to submit labels to the health department which would include ingredients of each type or flavor of cupcake and topping. You would be limited to those flavors until your permit renewal (when you could add more) unless you wanted to submit additional labels for review ($142 minimum). So, best to include all the flavors when you submit your sample labels. As for different cupcakes, candies, etc. in one box, yes the label would be on the box with each item’s ingredients listed.

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