RIVERSIDE – Riverside County is the first county in California to opt into a new state law allowing entrepreneurs to set up home kitchen-based businesses.

The Riverside County Board of Supervisors on May 7 adopted an ordinance to allow permitting of microenterprise home kitchen operations. The measure passed with the necessary four-fifths vote of the Board.

Supervisor Chuck Washington abstained. He City News Service  he could not support the measure without feeling as though he were compromising “the safety of our residents.”

Supervisor V. Manuel Perez championed the measure as a way of helping families generate income and supporting the creation of small businesses starting in a home kitchen.

“Since I was a kid and to this day, neighbors have prepared meals from their home and people come over,” Perez said in a prepared statement. “Home kitchens have been happening now for generations and many successful businesses have started out this way. This is an opportunity for home chefs to start a business and potentially transition into a commercial kitchen or restaurant. We now have a good system in place that sets guidelines, provides training and promotes safety.”

Perez sees opportunities for these types of businesses in the Coachella Valley to additionally benefit from no-cost training programs offered by the Riverside County Economic Development Agency. SBDC EATS, which offers business development support to help businesses start up and succeed, starts a new set of workshops in June.

Last year, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 626, authored by Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. The state law, which took effect Jan. 1, permits the sale of prepared meals and other foods from small-scale, home kitchen-based operations once counties opt in via a local ordinance.

“It is fantastic to hear that Riverside County is the first county in the entire state to implement AB 626, the Homemade Food Operations Act. The adoption of this ordinance stands to knock down systematic barriers and create opportunities for talented home cooks and aspiring local entrepreneurs. I highly commend the County Board of Supervisors and most especially my district’s representative, Supervisor V. Manuel Perez, for taking the lead on this issue of economic justice for our communities,” Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia said in a prepared statement.

Under the county ordinance, home kitchen-based operations will need to get a permit from the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health and pay a $651 annual fee. The main operator will need to obtain a food safety manager certificate and any workers will need to have a food handler card. County Environmental Health staff will conduct an annual inspection and respond to consumer complaints.

The state law set parameters for these home kitchen-based operations. The statute limits sales to 30 meals per day, 60 meals per week and $50,000 in gross sales annually. Food must be prepared, cooked and served that same day.

Riverside County’s ordinance will take effect in 30 days. As Riverside County’s Environmental Health Department oversees the food safety inspection program across the county, it will issue permits for kitchen-based operations located in any city or unincorporated community within Riverside County.

Perez represents the eastern two-thirds of Riverside County on the Riverside County Board of Supervisors. Stretching from Palm Springs and Desert Hot Springs, south to the Salton Sea and east to Blythe and the Colorado River, the 4th District is the largest geographical district in the county.

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