While not as extensive as a General Plan update, the Planning Department’s progress toward a comprehensive zoning regulations update may end up affecting several areas within the city.
During a special planning commission meeting, city planning staff reviewed numerous expected changes to the city’s zoning ordinance with a focus on areas such as mobile food facilities, accessory structures, driveways and Downtown Turlock zoning regulations.
Major changes to mobile food facilities could include a ban from operating in the Downtown Core, running primarily down Main Street in Turlock’s historical district, the Downtown Core Transition, and the Office Residential Overlay districts. Current city code also prohibits food trucks from operating within the Commercial Office district.
Additionally, mobile food facilities would be required to renew their permits with the City each year, as opposed to the current biannual renewal process.
During the public comment period, recently retired building inspector Joel Carter shared his belief that the city should also look into limiting the amount of food trucks allowed in Turlock.
“I’m opposed to having so many allowed,” said Carter. “There are currently 35 operating within the city, which creates a substantial impact to your brick and mortar restaurant businesses…It has been expanding, and there’s currently nothing in place to keep it from expanding more.”
Carter noted the permit allowing a new food truck, Vida Vital, to operate across the street from Dust Bowl Brewery as something the City should consider prohibiting, as the emergence of food trucks across the street from existing restaurants creates unfair competition.
“There are very few requirements for mobile food facilities as it currently stands,” said Carter. “Yet there are significant requirements with the City for more permanent options.”
Turlock resident Cindy Peterson noted that while the City should certainly have regulations on mobile food facilities, she believes the new food truck on Main Street is better than having an empty parking lot at the location.
“It breaks my heart to see that lot empty and just used for parking,” said Peterson. “I would like to see a spirit of commerce there, which you do get when you see a food vendor there selling things, rather than empty lots.”
Peterson also recommended that the commissioners examine how other cities throughout the country have handled food truck zoning issues, as the trend continues to gain popularity across the nation.
“We’ve had more participation now than before,” said Commissioner Nick Hackler in regards to the food truck issue. “Obviously it is a hot topic with some in our community.”
Although the planning commission did not take any action on the item, city staff is expected to bring their final recommendations to the commissioners during their February meeting. The planning commission will then vote on the changes within the zoning ordinance update before going on to the City Council in the coming months.
The next planning commission meeting will be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 6 at City Hall, located at 156 S. Broadway.