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Roseville City Council amends mobile food vendor ordinance

Old Town businesses concerned over impact of food carts
By: Sena Christian, The Press Tribune
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Mobile food vendors seem to be all the rage, but for some Roseville business owners these vendors are causing the wrong kind of rage.

A few business owners in the historic district have asked the city to adopt stricter regulations in its Downtown Code governing open air and mobile food vendors. They say the presence of food trucks and food push carts has caused a drop in sales for brick and mortar businesses.

According to three business owners, a mobile food truck vendor has been setting up shop on Main Street in Old Town during peak weekend evening hours. There is also an approved hot dog vendor operating at the corner of Main and Lincoln streets on most weekends.

Roseville City Council unanimously approved amending the Downtown Code ordinance during Wednesday's meeting, which will expand the existing requirement of a 100-foot separation from an open air vendor and a permanent business that sells the same "item" to include "food and beverage item."

The ordinance also states they cannot locate within 200 feet of another vendor. Mobile food vendors are required to have a city business license to operate.

Mobile food trucks will not be affected by these changes. Per the California Vehicle Code, local jurisdictions can only impose regulations on mobile food trucks when there's a public safety concern, said Wayne Wiley, associate planner for the city.

Scott Alvord, president of the Downtown Roseville Merchants Association, told the Press Tribune before the council vote that he hasn't been approached by any business owners with these concerns. 

"I'd be surprised that merchants would be against their presence in the downtown because most of these gourmet food trucks have such a crazy, fanatical following of people that they bring a crowd with them wherever they go," Alvord said. "These followers often enjoy wandering in and out of nearby businesses."

He said the problem likely occurs when a food vendor selling pizza, for instance, parks outside a pizza parlor. This dilemma needs to be addressed, he said.

"We definitely don't want to hurt our local businesses, but we need to consider that these trucks are quite a fad right now and they will bring new shoppers to the areas in which they come," Alvord said.

In a November letter to Roseville City Council, Teri Merryweather and Kathy Garner of Smokin Hot Dog on Lincoln Street complained of how open air vendors and food trucks are affecting their business.

On two Saturday evenings in October, when a mobile food vendor was present, the hot dog eatery brought in less than $100 each night, instead of the usual $250 to $300, according to the letter.

"We are a brick and (mortar) business, paying taxes, rent, utilities and we are not breezing in taking away an established business's customers and breezing out," they wrote. "We choose to be here for the long haul. Now it is apparent that this might not be our reality."

Merryweather said during Wednesday's meeting that she hasn't had problems with food trucks locating near her business since October.

City staff recommended against changes to food truck regulations after considering the limited number of these trucks that frequent downtown and researching other jurisdictions. Plus state vehicle code limits local jurisdictions' governing ability, and prohibiting these trucks would likely result in legal action, according to the staff report.

Here's a look at some other items approved during the April 18 council meeting:

Harry Crabb Park phase 1 award of contract: The city awarded the lowest bid, for a total contract award of $1.1 million, to Procida Landscape for construction of an 18.8-acre park on Scarborough Drive and Secret Ravine Parkway in the Stoneridge Specific Plan. Construction will begin in May and is funded through Citywide Park Fund, Stoneridge CFD Bond and Stoneridge Neighborhood Park Fund. The estimated annual cost of maintenance for phase 1 is $36,000 and will come from the general fund.

Municipal code amendment related to disposition of property: Changes to the code allows the city to determine alternate methods for selling or disposing of city property such as property sale, exchange or other financial arrangement. The city says this will also be useful when the city wants to see a piece of property developed in a specific manner. No immediate fiscal impact.

Agricultural land lease agreement amendment: In 2007, the city entered into an agreement to dry farm, graze and provide maintenance to 1,120 acres on the Al Johnson Wildlife Area, formally Reason Farms, for five years. The city accepted the proposal to continue farming/grazing rotation and provide maintenance at no cost for the right for Auburn Ravine Ranch and B&B Livestock to graze cattle on the property.

Parcel 49 acquisition and reimbursement agreement: Cinemark USA, Inc. requested the city use Community Facility District monies for the completion of community facility improvements, including construction of regional storm drain conveyance facilities and standard frontage improvements along Washington Boulevard. Cinemark owns Parcel 49 in the North Central Specific Plan, located at the corner of Washington Boulevard and Blue Oaks Boulevard, adjacent to Highway 65. Improvements have been budgeted through special taxes. Additional work needs to be completed, paid for by Traffic Mitigation Fees.

Sena Christian can be reached at senac@goldcountrymedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at SenaC_RsvPT.