The Spokane City Council unanimously approved a compromise law that sets up new regulations for food trucks operating on city streets and parking spaces.
The rules allow food truck operators to plug two-hour parking meters more than once so they can remain in a single location during hours of preparation, sales and cleanup.
The city is going to work with the Downtown Spokane Partnership to come up with a map of locations where property owners would welcome the trucks. The annual fee for food trucks is being changed to $60 for an unlimited number of locations, down from the previous proposal of $40 plus $10 for each location.
Council members said they want to consider reducing the $250 annual fee charged to restaurants with sidewalk seating as a way to even the playing field between established restaurants and mobile food trucks.
Also, food trucks could be prohibited within 50 feet of a downtown restaurant. Vendors will also need permission from the adjacent property owner to set up for business.
For park property, a food truck operator would need permission from the park director to make sure there were no safety concerns with the park location or heavy crowds for programmed events.
The ordinance approved Monday does not change rules for food trucks on private property.
City Hall spent a year working on the rule changes.
Honeybee poisons banned
In a second issue on Monday, the council voted 5-2 to ban city purchase and use of a class of insecticides called neonicotinoids, which are suspected of harming honeybees. The ban does not apply to private use.
Council members Mike Fagan and Mike Allen voted no.
Council President Ben Stuckart sponsored the ordinance as part of a series of environmental steps the city is taking for sustainability.
The issue drew a lot of comment and testimony from local gardeners, beekeepers and environmentalists as well as the pesticide industry.
Stuckart said he even had a call from a vice president of the chemical company Monsanto.
“Bees are so important, we should be leading the way to protect them,” Stuckart said.
He called attention to a recent news story about the killing of 1,000 honeybees in one Eugene, Oregon, location where a form of the insecticide was sprayed on linden trees while they were in bloom.
The measure does not affect the parks department, which is governed by the Park Board. However, the parks director told council members that neonicotinoids are not used in city parks, council members said.
Fagan said he was not convinced there is sufficient evidence to show that honeybees are hurt by the chemicals. “There is not settled science right now,” he said.
His concern was echoed by Allen.
Councilwoman Amber Waldref said, “I am convinced they do have an impact on pollinators in our community.”