The Lincoln City City Council is confident that food trucks or ‘mobile food units’ will be coming to town soon, but as they found out at the Nov. 4 meeting, there are still some kinks that need to be ironed out before that happens.
The City Council held a special meeting Monday afternoon to discuss several business items, such as the proposed food truck ordinances that were put together by the Lincoln City Planning Commission. City Manager Ron Chandler went over several of the rules and restrictions food truck vendors will have to follow in order to operate in the city.
First, Chandler noted the size of these mobile food units cannot be larger than a standard parking space at 9x20 feet. The second point mentioned was where these trucks could be located within the city limits.
“A lot of the discussion we’ve had is where should they be located,” Chandler said. “This ordinance attempts to deal with that.”
The ordinance states that these food trucks can be located on private property and on designated city park properties. If they are on park property, they must agree to a parks concession charge at 10 percent gross revenue to the city.
One debate the council had was whether the carts should be able to operate in public right-of-way, which under the current verbiage, they cannot.
“Under these scenarios, these carts will essentially be located on a private lot and cannot face a sidewalk to operate,” Chandler said.
One stipulation that didn’t sit well with several city councilors is the requirement of three paved public parking spaces for each individual vendor. Chandler noted that brick and mortar restaurants require parking spaces, which is why the Planning Commission included the requirement for food trucks.
“Why should we require public parking at all? I’m for eliminating that,” Councilor Riley Hoagland said. “If there is a mobile food unit parking lot, then there should be a parking requirement for the lot owner, not the individual vendor.”
Other restrictions within the ordinance stated that mobile food units must utilize biodegradable packaging, no plastic or Styrofoam based packaging or products would be allowed, as well preventing units to operate a drive thru and requiring them to have a dining area.
Chandler also pointed out that no mobile food unit shall occupy an area within 50 feet of a customer entrance of a restaurant unless a mobile food unit is operated from private property owned by a licensee.
“I feel like they should be able to be next to another business,” Hoagland said. “If you have a great product people are going to come buy it and it’s not my job to protect you.”
Mayor Dick Anderson countered Hoagland saying that brick and mortar restaurants should be taken into consideration.
“If we don’t have a level playing field and we are having the brick and mortar businesses pay property taxes doing all that stuff… I would reserve that one till we get down and try to see where the balance is,” Anderson said.
As Chandler read through the ordinance, many of the city councilors voiced some concerns about certain things included in the ordinance, and other things that may have been left out. Councilor Diana Hinton noted that there isn’t a restriction on how many food trucks a single business can operate in the city.
“We could have three different locations in Lincoln City that one business owns these three different carts, or are we trying to provide more opportunity for more folks and say just one permit per business?” Hinton asked.
Chandler said that is a topic the City staff would take into consideration.
Councilor Rick Mark was concerned about the prospect of having food trucks all over the city and asked what could be a method of controlling them.
“One way is to say that it can only be provided in specific locations and the city provides those locations,” Chandler said. “That’s the best way I know how to control it.”
The City staff will now be revising the ordinance for the City Council’s consideration at a later date.