Washington considering major food truck ordinance changes

Washington considering major food truck ordinance changes

A food truck parked at an event in Washington (Contributed photo)

WASHINGTON – Washington City Council members weighed changes to municipal rules governing food trucks at a regular meeting last week.

The proposed changes would overhaul Chapter 130 of the city code, requiring food trucks to operate with annual fire inspections, 2-day notices to the city before setting up, a penalty for non-compliance and a number of other new regulations . Officials said most of the new rules will not apply to mobile vendors at the city’s farmers market or special events approved by the council for exemptions.

City Clerk Sally Hart said the current system was inefficient and unclear at times.

“The city has a $10-a-day policy for food trucks operating on public property and a vendor license for those operating on private property,” which has a $2 application and $3-a-day surcharge, $15 per week or $50 per month, according to a memo to the council. “The changes would simplify the process.”

The proposals are modeled after similar ordinances in other cities close to Washington’s size, according to Hart.

“We have food trucks on both private property and public property, and they don’t have to follow the same rules, it’s a little difficult to determine which license they need,” she said. “We have some who get a daily license and others who get a monthly license. We also don’t have a fire inspection process, so it’s been requested by the fire department.”

Mayor Jaron Rosien said the city had time to listen to comments on the changes. The public hearing process for an ordinance change requires three readings at different council meetings, meaning the proposals will be open for debate for about a month and a half after the first reading.

“There’s time to get input, I think, from other food vendors, about any questions or concerns they have,” Rosien said.

However, the city did not vote on a first reading at its Jan. 3 meeting. Council member Elaine Moore said she wanted to give the vendors more time to weigh in before taking action.

“I’d just like to look at this a little bit more,” she said. “We haven’t had any feedback from anyone that this affects … so I’m not sure I’m ready to vote this first reading yet. I like what I’ve seen, but there are a few things I have questions about.

Conspicuously missing from the proposed changes are the new fees for food trucks. Hart said those fees were determined by city resolutions, not its code of ordinances. That doesn’t rule out the possibility of reworked fees along with the ordinance, however, as Hart said the city could change the amounts as the council sees fit in the future.

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