Oregon considers regulating food trucks

Kelly J. Kaczala

       Oregon City Council on Monday will consider amending part of the planning and zoning code regarding the operation, regulation and guidelines of food trucks that park throughout the city to serve customers.
        A food truck is a motorized vehicle or trailer equipped to cook, prepare, serve, and/or sell food and beverages.
        Some “brick and mortar” restaurants have claimed that their businesses suffer due to the mobile restaurants that merely drive up to a parking lot and set up shop without having to pay property taxes.
        The food truck industry has grown considerably in recent years. They have played a role in community events, offering a wide variety of fare to residents and visitors. The city has discussed in the past its desire to establish regulations on food trucks operating in the city.
        Oregon sees the need to adopt regulations to ensure that food trucks operating within the city do so according to the most up-to-date standards of safety and sanitation while balancing the interests of the restaurant community.
        “We talked about this last year and the year before – that food trucks would be a work in progress as we try things and see how the community reacts,” City Administrator Mike Beazley said at a committee of the whole meeting on June 21
        “Council President Dennis Walendzak asked us to take a look at this and made recommendations after he got input from some business owners in the city,” continued Beazley. “We developed some legislation that allows essentially two paths: One, if you meet certain conditions, you can come in and have your food trucks at a site following a very simple process. Second, if you want something more,  and you don’t meet the conditions, you have to come in and get a conditional use permit. Each of the processes is pretty simple. We’re trying to find that balance between an Oregon resident who borrowed money and put up a brick and mortar restaurant, and a food truck that comes next door at certain times. We think this is a good compromise along those lines where we’ll be looking for ideas and input over the next week. There’s no hurry with this. That’s why I wanted to bring this before a committee of the whole meeting.”
        James Gilmore, commissioner of building and zoning, said the proposed legislation states that food trucks may be permitted as a conditional use in commercial districts.
        Without a conditional use permit, a food truck may operate in commercial districts under six conditions:
        •Food trucks must have written permission from the property owner;
        •A property owner may only host food trucks in the same location no more than twice per month and limited to a total of six times per year;               
        •Any single vendor is limited to 10 days per year.
        •Food trucks must be approved by the local Fire Department and the Toledo Lucas County Health Department before approval can be granted.
        •Permits will be granted by the Oregon Building & Zoning Department for a fee of $30.
        •Exemptions: Festivals, church and school events, and community functions.
        If food trucks park in the street, the rules would not apply. “This is for property only,” said Gilmore. “They would meet the exemptions on community functions.” He cited as an example food trucks at a neighborhood block party.


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