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photo credit: (Credit: Premshree Pillai)
With a statewide law letting people sell certain homemade foods considered a success, there's a push to allow budding home chefs to open their homes to diners.
Already in place in a handful of California counties, some on a trial basis, the rules essentially allow micro-restaurants or supper clubs to operate out of people's homes.
Supporters say fears that bustling nightspots will disrupt residential neighborhoods are mostly unfounded. Peter Ruddock, policy director of The Cook Alliance, a promoter of the law, said the law caps the number of meals that may be served.
"Thirty per day or sixty per week. You could do 30 meals two days a week and I do know a cook who sets up a barbecue restaurant in his backyard on weekends, he doesn't always get 30, but he could. Others, they don't even try to hit the 60, they get eight to 10 people, four days a week."
Operators also can't exceed $50,000 in gross revenue, can't hire more than one non-family employee, and music and signs are strictly regulated.
Ruddock estimated about 100,000 people across the state are making and selling food without permits. He said the initiative is a way to legalize such operations, and add some supervision over hygiene.
But launching the program locally requires the county board of supervisors to opt in. Christine Sosko, with Sonoma County environmental health and safety told a less-than-enthusiastic city council in Sonoma last week that their counterparts in Windsor, Cotati, Rohnert Park and Sebastopol have raised concerns on a number of fronts.
 "Fire code compliance, that residential buildings are not equipped, unlike commercial buildings, A.D.A. compliance, safe escape routes, fire suppression, grease traps food storage and also the land use impacts, nuisance such as hours of operation, parking, odors noise and increased traffic."
Whether or not the county opts-in will be decided by the board of supervisors next month. A hearing is scheduled for Sept. 14.
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