City council gives nod to food truck ordinance

The council passed a new set of rules regarding food trucks, but reassured residents that the beloved taco truck is “not being kicked out of town.”
The Buckhorn food truck is seen along Abbey Street in Winters on August 7, 2018. Photo by Matthew Keys

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planning commission on a case-by-case basis. The ordinance was spearheaded in part by city intern Sam Donlevy who held a handful of meetings over the last several months with key business leaders to solicit input on what a food truck ordinance would look like. Earlier drafts of the ordinance had limitations on where trucks could operate in the city and a size limit that was predicated on the dimensions of the Buckhorn Catering food trucks. Those restrictions were removed in the final draft of the ordinance that was ultimately recommended by the council last week, though there are still restrictions on how many trucks can operate at the intersection of Grant and Railroad at any one time. That limitation has led to what could be the start of a turf war between the Buckhorn Catering applicants and the owner of the Kountry Kitchen restaurant. According to an earlier draft of the ordinance reviewed by the Express, the Kountry Kitchen had approached the city with an interest in setting up a food truck of their own. The draft said if the city ultimately approved the ordinance and Buckhorn Catering’s permit, the Kountry Kitchen would be out of luck. Lorenzo Arce, the owner of the Kountry Kitchen, had several different issues with the ordinance in an email given to council members before Tuesday’s meeting, a copy of which was obtained by the Express. In the email, Arce said he was not against the food trucks and was not interested in having one of his own near his business, but that certain parts of the ordinance could lead to safety issues at the intersection. “That intersection…is not safe for a food truck that can cause any type of trouble,” Arce wrote, adding that he felt food trucks could create visibility issues which could lead to an accident. Still, the city forged ahead with the ordinance, comparing it to a welcome mat for food trucks who were considering setting up shop in Winters. “I understand that brick and mortar stores often feel that they’re under attack by all the different business models that are out there,” Council Member Jesse Loren said. “But the taco truck is just a great business model to deliver food to people who are hungry…I kind of would support a taco truck on every corner.” Speaking of the taco truck: City officials want to assure everyone in town that the much-beloved El Verduzco is not going away simply because the city passed the ordinance. “There’s been some comments made that we’re trying to get rid of the taco truck, and that’s so far from what’s true,” Mayor Bill Biasi said. “The taco truck is not being kicked out of town, nobody has to worry about that.” Dave Dowswell, the city’s community development consultant, told the Express the taco truck would be “grandfathered in as it pre-exists the ordinance.” Dowswell said El Verduzco complied with existing regulations prior to the recommendation of the ordinance because it had obtained a business license and clearance from county health officials. But the taco truck could be impacted in one way: As the city starts receiving applications for conditional use permits, El Verduzco could soon start seeing some competition for customers.

Correction: A version of this story that appeared in print erroneously said the ordinance had been “formally adopted.” The ordinance had been formally recommended for adoption; a second reading and consideration of the ordinance will take place at the city council meeting on Dec. 18.]]>

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