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Council to revisit food truck restrictions, zoning overhaul
council preview pic
The Turlock City Council is set to discuss restrictions on mobile food trucks in the Downtown Core at a special meeting starting at 5 p.m. Tuesday. - photo by Journal file photo

The Turlock City Council will consider a comprehensive repeal and replacement of the Turlock Zoning Ordinance at Tuesday’s meeting, something that the council previously deferred back to the Planning Commission for further consideration in January.

The aim of the new ordinance is to bring it into consistency with the 2012 General Plan and in January Mayor Gary Soiseth said the City wants to proceed with “an abundance of caution” before approving such significant changes. Council Member Bill DeHart echoed his sentiment and requested that staff bring forth a comparative chart to illuminate the differences that would be taking shape “for clarity’s sake.”

The interest in repealing and replacing the ordinance was precipitated by four years of amendments made by the Planning Commission. Modifications include permitting electric fences in the Turlock Regional Industrial Park, refining restriction on the location of drive-through facilities in town, as well as making it easier for citizens to have accessory structures, like storage sheds or gazebos, as long as it is not placed in the front yard.

The Council will also consider staff’s recommendation of establishing a discretionary permitting process for cargo containers as the new zoning ordinance establishes limits on the number and size of cargo containers allowed. There would be a significant reduction in permitting fees as Minor Discretionary Permits for commercial or industrial zoned properties would be reduced from $1,475 to $345 and Minor Administrative Approval for local residences would drop from $345 to $170.

The new zoning ordinance would also modify the renewal process for food trucks from every six months to once a year.

The council will be considering the repeal and replacement of the zoning ordinance and the modifications to local food truck policies separately due to the latter’s high profile nature.

In March the Planning Commission failed to reach an agreement on whether they should recommend stronger restrictions of the mobile vendors in certain downtown areas.

 “Staff decided to take the items separately because we were aware that there was a certain amount of controversy associated with the mobile food truck facility item and we wanted to give the Planning Commission and the Council time to thoroughly consider the items separately,” said Deputy Director of Development Services Debra Whitmore in March.

The Commission’s 3-3 split vote at the March 5 meeting is indicative of the controversial issue that has been a hot item of discussion for citizens and local business owners for more than a year. The discussion was precipitated by complaints from downtown business owners as well as the Turlock Downtown Property Owners Association’s request that the City examine regulations of the mobile food facilities after two permits were issued in 2013. Subsequently, the Commission and Council approved resolutions with intent to amend the City’s Zoning Regulations regarding the vendors.

An interim ordinance was adopted in November 2013 when Council voted to prohibit issuing permits for food trucks for 45 days in the Downtown Core Zoning District, a decision which was extended for 10 months in December 2013. The amendment before the Planning Commission on March 5 included making the interim decisions permanent by prohibiting mobile facility permits to vendors for the Downtown Core, the Downtown Core Transition, and the Office-Residential districts.

Also on Tuesday, the Turlock City Council is expected to:

·         - Consider approving a five year lease agreement between the State of California Military Department and the City of Turlock for the two acres located at Soderquist Field predominantly utilized by the Turlock National Little League Association. In September a portion of nearby Alaska Street was considered for closure to make more room for the Turlock Armory to park its vehicles. That decision has since been placed on hold by the State.

·         - Consider approving a purchase in the amount not to exceed $123,909 for four pickup trucks and one sport utility vehicles through the State of California to be shared between the Municipal Services Department and the Parks, Recreation, and Public Facilities Department.

·        -  Consider approving a short term loan from the General Fund in the amount of $38,000 so the City can rehabilitate and sell a property on Vermont Avenue. In doing so, the City will not be forced to pay back funds to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The Turlock City Council will meet at 5 p.m. for a special workshop on the zoning ordinance, and then at 6:30 p.m. for its regularly scheduled meeting. The City Council meets in the Yosemite Room of City Hall at 156 S. Broadway.