June 19, 2014 in City

Spokane officials work out agreement for food truck rules

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Complaints from food truck operators that proposed city regulations were burdensome likely will lead to lighter rules.

City officials on Wednesday worked out an agreement for a new food truck ordinance, and associations that represent food truck operators and restaurant owners have given their blessing, Spokane City Council President Ben Stuckart said.

The city worked for a year to craft regulations for the growing food truck industry. But when those rules were up for vote last month, opposition from food truck operators surprised the council, which opted to delay a vote for a month.

“We have a happy solution,” said Councilman Mike Allen, who along with Stuckart met with businesses, city officials and downtown representatives to find an agreement.

The deal relaxes the rules that the City Council didn’t vote on last month.

But they still give building owners and restaurants protection from food trucks parking and opening adjacent to them. Some restaurant owners have complained about food trucks stealing customers at their front door.

Erin Everhart, chairwoman of the Spokane Chapter of the Washington Restaurant Association, said her group is not opposed to food trucks and supports the new proposal.

“It’s always good to strengthen the culinary community in Spokane,” Everhart said. “Any compromise at this point is better than no compromise.”

According to Stuckart and Allen, the compromise:

• Reduces the area from restaurants where food trucks could be prohibited from 75 feet to 50 feet.

• Requires the permission of the city park director, not the city park board, for a food truck to park adjacent to a park and doesn’t require any permission if the truck is across the street. The park director would be limited in the reasons he could deny a food truck.

• Changes the proposed annual city food truck fee to $60 for unlimited locations. The former plan was a $40 base fee plus $10 per location.

• Allows food truck operators to feed two-hour meters beyond two hours as long as they keep serving food.

Stuckart said those at the meeting also discussed opening Wall Street between Spokane Falls Boulevard and Main Avenue to food trucks. That won’t be part of the rules that will be considered by City Council, but will be studied further by the Downtown Spokane Partnership, Stuckart said.

“It’s potentially a perfect location for food trucks downtown,” he said.

The council is expected to vote on the compromise at Monday night’s council meeting.

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