People may have observed when traveling through Riverbank that there are no food trucks. They have had several requests by vendors through the years, however, city ordinances did not allow it. Although it has been a long time coming, the City of Riverbank has now created a new six-month Mobile Food Vendor Pilot Program. Planning and Building Manager Donna M. Kenney presented a report to the city council and public last Tuesday, Jan. 22 at the council’s regular meeting.
“This item is something that has been a long time in the making and is something we received a lot of feedback and requests for from the community and from the council over the years,” stated City Manager Sean Scully prior to the presentation.
The only regulation that exists relating to food trucks in Riverbank stated that no vehicle selling goods could do so without a permit, and no vehicle selling goods could stop at one location for more than 10 minutes, no exceptions.
“The current regulation requires them to only stop for about 10 minutes,” said Kenney. “If they are coming through the city and they want to sell some food, they can stop for 10 minutes and then they have to move on. That works for cold cuts and premade items but it doesn’t really work if they are going to have somebody make you a hot meal.”
Looking to revise that to allow for a more vendor and customer-friendly experience, the council recently took action on the matter.
There are two options available for food truck vendors in the new pilot program including Temporary Use Permits (TUP) and Administrative Use Permits (AUP).
In the six-month trial period vendors with a TUP would be able to do business on the street located as close to a restroom as possible and if there is no restroom then they can only be there for three hours maximum. They must have a trash can and cannot have any structures including tables or a canopy.
“If they don’t keep up the trash or they stay longer than the amount of time that we permit them to do we will pull their permit,” stated Kenney. “This is just a trial so we have the ability to do that. We will not at this time allow vendors at the Sports Complex or Castlberg Park due to snack bar fundraising.”
Due to traffic concerns and congestion at Rotary Park and Jacob Myers Park, food trucks will not be allowed there unless they get a permit from the Director of Parks and Recreation Sue Fitzpatrick for one day or one week or for events on the perimeter.
“These would be issued on first come first serve basis,” explained Kenney during her presentation. “The person would bring us an application, some photos and tell us what they want to do. We would go out and check out the sites to see if it would make sense to give it a try and then we could issue the permit. The six-month trial period begins with the first issuance of the very first permit.”
The AUP would be for stationary trucks on a commercial and industrial zoned private property only. The mobile vendor would have to have written permission by the business owner that is there permanently each day so that they have a place to wash hands and ability to use the restroom. They can only be open when the business is open and are not allowed to serve food from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m.
“They have to co-locate on an existing business site and it has to be a non-food business so it can’t be a restaurant or a coffee shop, it has to be something totally different,” added Kenney. “They must have use of the trash and recycling facilities of the place. And then all vendors and locations will be approved by Development Services. Like I said litter recurring on a regular basis is one way we can pull your permit.”
City Councilmember Cal Campbell had concerns about the mobile food truck having a business license and following health codes. Kenney advised that they would have to have a health permit from the county, a city business license and be connected to a commissary to keep food fresh and refrigerated.
New to the dais, Councilmember Luis Uribe commented that he thought the pilot program is a great idea and would like to see mobile food trucks allowed at all parks even if there is a snack bar.
During public comment, former councilmember Leanne Jones Cruz stated that it would be nice to consider having a food truck festival combined with downtown events like the Sip and Stroll and to hopefully streamline the process and not to create so many regulations that they can’t do business.
“This is a long time coming,” stated Mayor Richard O’Brien prior to opening it up to hear public comment. “We tried starting it up five years ago. We even had vendors coming on in asking for this type of a program and see how it will work. I am glad it is on its way.”
After discussion with the City Council and public comment, city staff was directed to proceed with the six month pilot program. The council will receive an update in six months to see how the pilot program is going and at that time could decide to continue the program, revise it or discontinue it.