You know the drill when you go to a concert: Before the headlining act takes the stage, you hear from an opening act or two.

Local government meetings work the same way whenever there’s a public hearing about a subject the public actually wants to hear.

I’m sure the Vancouver City Council had an excellent reason for making the hearing on collective medical marijuana gardens the third of three public hearings on the agenda, but we all know the truth: They love a captive audience.

The second hearing was on an annual code update, just cleaning up city codes to reflect new local or state policy decisions or to fix typos or to clarify small points. It was a random list. Here are just two examples:

Doggy Day Cares in higher density residential areas CANNOT increase capacity from 30 to 40 doggies.

Colors of buildings in the Heritage Overlay District no longer have to be muted. (“Colors should contribute to the distinct character of the building. For non-listed structures, colors should be compatible with neighboring buildings. For listed structures, period-appropriate building colors shall be researched and incorporated in any new color scheme. Significant departures from these standards shall be reviewed and approved by the Historic Preservation Commission.”)

You get the idea.

One change caught my attention, though. Business reporter Cami Joner had an article in July about a Clark County woman, Felicia Hill, who successfully lobbied for a change in state law that would allow her to legally operate her home-based bakery. The “Cottage Food Act” passed, and now local jurisdictions are updating their codes accordingly.

The change in law will help bakers who want to have a small home business (profits cannot exceed $15,000 a year) without having to invest in installing a commercial kitchen.

Since I was waiting for the collective gardens ordinance, I had pot on the brain, and I heard Chad Eiken, the city’s code czar, clarify for the council that the law only applies to baked goods and other low-risk foods.

What a coincidence, I thought. Initiative 502 takes effect Thursday, and now it’s legal for people to do commercial baking in their home.

You see where I’m going with this?


Stephanie Rice

Stephanie Rice

I cover Vancouver city government. Reach me at or 360-735-4508.

Scroll to top