Stupid canton-level logic prevents home bakers from making extra money


Earlier this fall, New Jersey became the latest state to lift its ban on the sale of home baked goods – a major victory for home bakers in the Garden State.

But here in Pennsylvania, some residents have not been so fortunate.

Despite the fact that all 50 states and the District of Columbia now allow businesses that sell homemade food, local Commonwealth governments still prevent them from opening. And they have absurd reasons for doing it.

Take the Township of Abington, for example, which told residents like Tim Sienold they couldn’t run a home bakery business. Tim, a daytime architectural rendering service provider, recently decided to open a small home-based cookie business with his wife – an opportunity to spend some quality time together and a little extra income. Before starting, Sienold checked the Commonwealth’s rules on homemade baking and found that his cookie business was fully licensed. He then checked the township’s zoning ordinances for a “no-impact home business” and found that he met those rules as well. Yet when he applied to Abington officials for a zoning permit, he was told he couldn’t get one.

The zoning official told Sienold that the oil used to bake the cookies would cause problems with the township’s sewer lines, even if the baked goods only use a small amount of oil – barely enough. to line a bowl or pan – and there is nothing wrong with baking cookies. in a family kitchen. When Sienold pushed further, assuring zoning officials that he would compost as much as possible and not damage the sewer line, the zoning official gave a surprising response. As the zoning officer told Sienold, “if [they] were to allow this use, it would mean [they] would have to license every type of home bakery that would apply, ”and the township says it doesn’t have the resources to conduct inspections for those permits. But bureaucratic laziness is not a legitimate reason for preventing Pennsylvanians from earning an income.

By preventing Sienold and others from operating home-based businesses, the Township of Abington is preventing a thriving industry from entering. When states and cities make it easier for bakers and home cooks to sell their products, local economies benefit. For example, when Minnesota relaxed its home cooking rules, 3,000 new businesses sprang up in two years. California, Texas and other states all had similar results when lawmakers relaxed the rules on home food businesses.

“When states and cities make it easier for bakers and home cooks to sell their products, local economies benefit. “

Alexa L. Gervasi

In addition, Abington’s restrictions hurt potential entrepreneurs, especially women and those with low incomes. A 2018 report from the Institute for Justice showed that people who choose to work in the home baking business have a median household income (including non-baking income) of just $ 36,000, against $ 59,030 for the national population. This means that restrictions that are too strict hurt those who can least afford them.

In response to the unnecessary burdens these restrictions impose, momentum across the country is in favor of letting people like Sienold operate home grocery businesses. In this calendar year alone, 12 states passed laws making it easier for home bakers to sell their products, as well as expanding the products bakers are allowed to produce. And despite Abington Township’s concerns, I haven’t seen any reports suggesting that the sewage systems in any of these states have failed to adjust to these expansions.

With New Jersey and other states having made substantial strides in food freedom in recent years, it’s crucial that local cities don’t prevent entrepreneurs from chasing their dreams, especially based on absurd explanations or of abject laziness.

Alexa L. Gervasi is a lawyer at the Institute for Justice.

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