The issue of allowing food trucks in the downtown core may not be a point of interest for many, but for some it has been a major concern.
Over the past month, the City of Turlock has heard from several concerned citizens with opposing views on whether or not mobile food vendors should be allowed downtown.
The topic first came to light when the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association requested that the City immediately stop issuing mobile food vendor permits when Turlock resident and young entrepreneur Christopher Shaun turned in his application to operate his food truck, Vida-Vital, in the downtown area. The food truck is said to bring healthy options to the area, with a menu consisting of smoothies, fruit bowls, crepes, tapioca pearl tea and more.
The TDPOA has stated that their main concern is “unfair business advantages” put forth by mobile food vendors in the downtown area, as downtown business owners pay the TDPOA a 42-cent per square foot tax to help with the maintenance of the downtown district – a tax that mobile food vendors are not tied to yet “reap the benefits of.” Shaun, however, has said that he is willing to pay the tax.
Although the City opted to grandfather the business in – allowing him to operate at an empty parking lot across from Dust Bowl Brewery on Main Street – the TDPOA is still working towards changing the current Turlock Municipal Code regarding food truck permits in the downtown core.
On Thursday, the Turlock Planning Commission will be holding a public workshop on potential changes to the Turlock Municipal Code concerning mobile food facilities for the downtown core zoning district, primarily running down Main Street where Shaun’s business is set to operate.
Shaun, who plans to open his business starting Friday at the Turlock Christmas Parade, says that he will attend the meeting with hopes to help find a solution.
“I do plan to attend,” said Shaun. “I will bring up how the university thought it was a wonderful idea and every way that the TDPOA is going about this. I have a solution and that is to be equal.”
According to his current permit, Shaun will be allowed to operate at the Main Street location for one year. With the City and TDPOA entering discussion on changing the city code, however, it seems unlikely that Shaun will be allowed to continue operating at the location once his permit expires.
Members of the public are invited to attend the workshop to bring forth concerns and approaches to revising the current city code on mobile food vendors in the downtown district. Although an official decision will not be made at Thursday’s meeting, the City hopes to receive community input that will help guide the decision making process.
“This will be a public workshop to solicit input on the regulations regarding mobile food vendors in the Downtown Core Zoning District,” said Turlock planning director Debbie Whitmore. “City staff will review the current ordinance and provide some information on how other cities regulate mobile food vendors. However, most of the time will be spent listening to the community. The input that is received will be used to formulate the new regulations for consideration by the Planning Commission at the January meeting.”
The planning commission meeting will begin at 6 p.m. on Thursday at City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.