Locals Discuss Possibility of New Mobile Food Ordinance at Hollister – SanBenito.com
The ongoing fight for a mobile food scene in Hollister continues as more than 30 people attended an informal meeting to discuss a new ordinance in the works that will allow vendors to sell food across the city.
A good cross-section of established brick-and-mortar restaurant owners and street vendors — who have been limited to finding their own permanent home — voiced their opinions at City Hall on Monday night.
Hollister Mayor Mia Casey and executive directors of the Hollister Downtown Association were also in attendance.
“We wanted to hear from all parties,” said Christy Hopper, director of development services for the town of Hollister. “Last night was, I would say, a very successful reunion.”
Over the past year, public comments have poured in to Hollister City Council, mostly from mobile food vendors wanting the city to ease restrictions.
The current ordinance allows limited locations for mobile food vendors, such as industrial areas north of the intersection of McCloskey and San Felipe Road and north of the intersection of Fallon and San Felipe Road, as well as Hollister Municipal Airport.
Hopper said vendors are also restricted to parking as they are only allowed 10 minutes at a time. She mentioned that several people were operating in the city but not doing so legally.
The Hollister City Council heard what the public had to say and asked staff to write a vending machine ordinance to outline what the regulations would be.
Hopper knows the process after working for the city of Monterey to prepare its mobile food ordinance, allowing for different types of permits.
Permits depend on the type of food served, when they operate, and options on where they wish to operate.
The ordinance will offer three types of permits starting with a short term, which is to park one hour at a time per block and not return to the same block for four hours. Vendors would be allowed to set up throughout the city with certain restrictions based on health and safety, as well as certain restrictions in residential areas.
The second permit would be for four hours and serve what Hopper calls “underserved areas” of the city that don’t have brick-and-mortar restaurants. She said it will be similar to the current ordinance which allows mobile vending in general commercial, industrial and airport areas.
A third option is a permit to operate on undeveloped private property such as a parking lot upon agreement with that owner and during business hours or a proposed alternative schedule.
“It deals with what you can do in the public right-of-way and develops private property with an agreement,” she said.
Some issues raised at the meeting included how many vendors could be in one location and the possibility of turning undeveloped private property into what Hopper called a mobile food truck lot.
The food court idea needs more thought as there are requirements including restrooms and improved parking.
“It’s something the city will hopefully tackle in the near future,” Hopper said. “It’s a desire that especially the mobile food vendors, they really liked it. They like to go there in packs”.
Hopper said the brick-and-mortar community is all for the presence of food trucks in town, but their main concern is the aspect of competition.
Hopper said they would address that concern at the next June 5 city council meeting. She also mentioned that City Attorney Mary Lerner will review whether or not it is legal for the city to put in place parking regulations in front of a restaurant.
“[Restaurant owners] support mobile sellers because they believe they are mutually beneficial for everyone,” she said. “But [they] of course expressed this concern about competition due to the money you invest in a brick and mortar restaurant versus a food truck.
Hopper’s goal as director of development services and as a former planner is always to get as much consensus as possible.
“Getting the message out to a wide range of people is imperative,” she said.
Hopper was with the City of Monterey’s planning division from 2008 to 2016 and was part of the team that prepared the new ordinance.
Since leaving Monterey, they have updated the order several times because there are always adjustments to be made.
It’s something Hopper hopes the Hollister City Council will consider.
“We’re going to roll this out and figure out what works, what doesn’t,” she said. “And then we can always go back and change the order.”