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SAN DIEGO — County leaders want to make it easier for some local “micro-businesses” to operate from the comfort of home without running afoul of the law.

County Supervisor Joel Anderson and Vice Chair Nora Vargas are leading the effort to legalize Microenterprise Home Kitchen Operations (also called MEHKOs) in an effort to boost the local economy.

MEHKOS are defined by California law as a new type of retail food facility, operated by a resident in a private home. Unless authorized by county leaders, MEHKOs are not be allowed in San Diego.

“This is a movement that’s been coming across California, across the United States, and just recently the state approved counties to legalize it. So, that’s what we’re going to do,” Anderson said. “We’re going to authorize staff to come back with a plan of how people can sell their goods from home.”

Anderson and Vargas will introduce a joint board letter at their meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 14 that would begin the process of allowing MEHKOs to operate in San Diego County.

It would legitimize many local companies that have already been making and selling food from home illegally.

“They don’t have a license, there’s not monitoring. This would involve some of that monitoring at a very moderate price,” Anderson said.

It would cost roughly $1,000 for a resident to start running their home business, and companies like Foodnome can help them get started safely and properly.

While details are still being worked out, the MEHKOs would be regulated by the county’s health department.

Diana Tapiz runs Tres Fuegos Cocina with her husband; they started out serving friends and neighbors and eventually started a business and legally rented space in a commercial kitchen. However, at a rate of $400 for four days a month, they were spending $1600 just on a space to prepare food.

“We were able to work there for two months — two months before the overhead costs really got to us, because from home it was a total different experience: no rent, no childcare costs,” Tapiz said.
She is not operating her kitchen at home right now, because she wants to do it legally, but she is eager to get started when supervisors make MEHKOs official.

“That would mean I could get paid, if it goes,” she said, laughing.