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Santa Maria to Discuss Regulations on Cottage Food Operations

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - At-home food businesses are relatively new in the state of California because of a law that took effect last year. Now the Santa Maria City Council is considering tightening up certain restrictions on those businesses to prevent complaints from their neighbors.

The law legalized what's called Cottage Food Operations, or CFO. It allows certain non-perishable foods to be made and sold from your home. Each of these at-home businesses follows state health and safety codes, but now the city of Santa Maria wants to tighten up its rules and regulations on the impact to surrounding neighborhoods.

Jeannette Banakus is living the life of an entrepreneur. She and her husband Jim created a line of BBQ seasonings, called Jimmy's Redneck Rub. Last September the couple started selling the stuff from their home and launched a website to broaden their reach.

"We feel like we're kinda part of a special club, a special trend of people who are helping each other to just make it, to try to be small business owners," said Banakus. "I think that's the trend."

While their business is in Orcutt under the county's jurisdiction, CFO's in Santa Maria are facing stricter regulations when it comes to neighborhood relations.
The city council will discuss these new rules:

1. Direct sales, deliveries or loading/unloading shall be limited to 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

2. A maximum of 20 employee, customer or delivery vehicle trips related to the CFO may enter the neighborhood each day. There is no limit on bicycle or pedestrian traffic.

3. All vehicles must park in legal spaces and not block sidewalks or driveways.

4. No on-site consumption of products, other than small samples, to prevent customers (and potentially their parked cars) from being at the home too long.

5. No outdoor storage or display related to the CFO.

The Community Development Department says the hope is to prevent parking and noise issues in those neighborhoods.

Banakus says keeping neighbors happy has always been high on her priority list.

"I did a lot of research on that," said Banakus. "I wanted to make sure that not only were we not going to break any rules, but I wasn't going to get my neighbors upset."

The Community Development Department says it doesn't expect the proposed regulations to cause an uproar.

Banakus is just happy that she could get a business started in her home and avoid the high start-up costs of renting a commercial space.

"It's almost like the state is taking us by the hand and leading us through it and giving us the opportunity to figure out what owning a business is all about," said Banakus. "It's been good for us."

The tighter regulations will be up for public discussion at the city council meeting on July 1st at 6:30.

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