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City code adds mobile food vendors
by MATTHEW NASH
Technically illegal for years, mobile food vendors are now part of the City of Sequim’s municipal code, with some stipulations.
City councilors voted 3-1, on Monday, Sept. 10, with Candace Pratt opposed, to regulations for the trucks, despite none currently operating within the city limits.
Through the ordinance, mobile food vendors are allowed with city and property owners’ approval in nonresidential zones west of Fifth Avenue and east of Brown Road, on a developed property with an improved parking lot.
In order to use an approved site daily, a vendor can stay onsite for up to four hours but no more than three hours at a time. Vendors who stay more than four hours must leave their sites at the end of each day and not return within 48 hours.
Signs on the side of mobile vendors’ trucks are exempt from the sign code and the business is allowed one portable sign measuring no more than six square feet located within 15 feet of the truck or property.
Chris Hugo, the city’s director of community development, said the mobile trucks are exempt from transportation impact fees and general facility charges because they don’t have equity.
Mayor Ken Hays said the ordinance seems appropriate for mobile food trucks because they are at a spot only for lunch or dinner rushes.
“Having them at one spot 12 hours a day seven days a week is not appropriate,” he said.
Hays questioned if Sequim needed an ordinance and has enough clientele for the trucks.
Councilor Pratt opposed the ordinance because she finds the trucks have an unfair advantage over brick-and-mortar restaurants that must pay impact fees to the city.
“I’m happy to have them not appear,” she said.
Tim Arndt, a city planning commissioner, said he was the lone vote against the code on the commission because he felt it limited vendors downtown.
“I don’t think it’s fair to not allow them in the core,” he said.
Kim McDougal spoke against restrictions of a truck not being able to return for 48 hours after being in one place more than four hours.
“You can’t make it successful if you are moving constantly,” she said.
Who is affected?
Currently, Fita’s Mexican Grill’s food truck is not open at 190 Priest Road. Its owner, Arturo Moreno, could not be reached.
His son, Daniel, said there are plans to reopen in Sequim, but he wouldn’t elaborate by whom and where. Moreno’s Port Angeles restaurant of the same name, a brick-and-mortar restaurant, is continuing operations.
Curbside Bistro at The Home Depot is classified as a non-mobile food vendor without land use approval. However, Hugo said the company has applied to make an amendment to its site plan to include the food cart restaurant.
Vendors at events like the Sequim Open Aire Market and Lavender Weekend operate under a special events permit.
Currently, mobile food trucks aren’t allowed in city parks, and if an ordinance were to be created to allow them there, it would go through the city parks board and then the city council.