In November, the Lincoln City City Council worked through a draft of an ordinance that permitted food trucks or ‘mobile food units and mobile food pods,’ to be able to operate within the city limits. After several discussions between both the council and the Lincoln City Planning Commission, the City has reached an agreement to approve the ordinance.
The City Council held a public hearing meeting on Feb. 10 to discuss the final details of the ordinance. The Planning Commission submitted their final recommendation for the ordinance on Jan. 7 and after looking over the packet, several councilors had concerns about some of the nuts and bolts of the provisions.
One of the concerns was regarding the Commission’s recommendation to prohibit the operation of class one and class two mobile food units, which sell pre-packaged items, such as the operation of non-profits like the Taft Boosters.
“They’re not selling cooked food, so we’re eliminating their ability to fundraise essentially… I’m not in support of that,” Councilor Riley Hoagland said.
However, City Attorney Richard Appicello noted that with a street vendor license, those non-profits would still be able to operate, albeit at a restricted size. The Council also disagreed with the terminology written by the Planning Commission that stated packaging for any food or utensils must be biodegradable, prohibiting any plastic or prepackaged items.
“That would limit greatly what people will be able to sell,” Hoagland said.
The Council then heard comments from the public, including food truck advocate Dan Clanton, the owner of The Grill 1646 restaurant. Clanton also operates a food truck in Bend and is very familiar with the rules and regulations regarding mobile food units in Oregon.
Clanton also raised concerns about the Planning Commission recommendations, such as the class one and class two truck prohibitions. The second concern was the use of generators by mobile food unit. Clanton was in support of prohibiting external generators due to the noise they produce.
His food units are able to operate at full capacity via a power cord and sees no need for an external generator. Finally, Clanton touched on the kitchen requirements for these mobile food units, citing the fact that as the ordinance was stated, most food units would have to cook their food in a commercial kitchen, then reheat it on their food truck.
“We don’t have the infrastructure for that in Lincoln City,” Clanton said. “There is a large number of families here that are operating in other markets, providing jobs in other cities and making money for other cities because this law is in place here.
"We all want to come home. We want to bring our carts, bring our families and provide more jobs.”
Mayor Dick Anderson brought up the concern of balancing brick and mortar restaurants paying property taxes while the mobile food units are not. Clanton countered by saying most restaurants are leasing property in Lincoln City, so they wouldn’t be paying property taxes, only occupancy tax, which is what a mobile food unit would pay as well.
Leslie Portune, owner of Snug Harbor Bar and Grill also gave her concerns with sections of the ordinance, particularly a sentence that was recently removed that said mobile food units must be one wheels and have the ability to move. Portune feared that the food trucks may park and station themselves at a location for an extended period of time, even while being inoperable.
After deliberation, the City staff said they had no problem putting that section back into the ordinance and stated that it should not have been removed in the first place.
Alison Robertson, Director of the Lincoln City Urban Renewal Agency, also spoke in support of having mobile food units in town.
"The topic of food carts is very exciting and has potential to provide increased economic activity through a different food choice experience than is offered now," Robertson said. "I believe it's something that some of our visitors expect but have been lacking when they arrive in Lincoln City."
Robertson also acknowledged the concerns of other businesses in Lincoln City, but felt that giving the option to patrons was important. She also noted that it will allow opportunities for brick and mortar businesses to expand and benefit local businesses.
"Food carts are one more economic strategy and I support it in whatever form it shows up," Robertson said.
The Council continued discussions about prohibiting plastics and prepackaged items. The Councilors made the determination that the focus should be on packaging provided to the general public, such as to go containers made of plastic or Styrofoam.
The Council decided to strike the class one and class two prohibition, prohibit to go plastic containers and Styrofoam packaging to be given to the public and prohibit external generators.
After a vote, the Council voted unanimously to approve the ordinance with the changes made.