Wednesday, February 8, 2023     Volume: 23, Issue: 49

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on June 8th, 2022, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 23, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 23, Issue 15

Solvang Planning Commission recommends new rules to address food trucks

By Caleb Wiseblood

Food trucks have become a staple throughout the county, pulling up at events and festivals year-round, but Solvang’s been without a clearcut ordinance governing exactly where and when food trucks can and cannot operate. So on June 6, the city’s Planning Commission supported adopting a set of rules for vehicular purveyors of victuals. 

The Solvang planning commissioners unanimously approved the proposal from city staff for a food truck ordinance, and it will move forward to the Solvang City Council for final approval. 

A proposed food truck ordinance, recommended by the Solvang Planning Commission, is moving forward to the Solvang City Council for final approval. Solvang’s current municipal code doesn’t include a subsection to directly address food truck operations.

The proposed ordinance would ban food trucks from operating on private property in all areas of the city, including residential zones, without a special event permit. Before the planning commissioners voted, they altered one detail in the ordinance, as some commissioners did not feel the initial proposal was strict enough.

The original draft of the protocol would have allowed food trucks to operate if “such use is permitted under a minor conditional use permit for parking lot sales,” according to the staff report.

“Is a driveway considered a parking lot?” Planning Commissioner Jack Williams asked city staff during the June 6 meeting.

“If it’s on private property, yes,” planning consultant Laurie Tamura responded.

This clarification led Planning Commissioner Aaron Petersen to argue that it would be too easy for someone to obtain a weekly or monthly permit to operate a food truck in their driveway or lawn during a garage sale, which Williams agreed would be problematic.

All five planning commissioners agreed to omit the “parking lot sales” section of the proposal. The updated regulation moving forward to the City Council will only allow food trucks to operate on private property with a special event permit.

While no ordinance in Solvang’s current code directly addresses food truck operations on private property, the use is already “arguably prohibited,” according to the staff report, “because mobile food truck vending is not an expressly permitted use on private property in any zone in the city.”

One of the reasons the Planning Commission is recommending creating a direct protocol is to prevent some provisions of the current code from being “broadly interpreted,” the staff report states.

“For example, the commercial districts permit ‘outdoor barbecues’ if associated with a food-serving use. It would be a stretch to argue that also permits anything other than a barbecue truck, but the claim could be made,” the report reads. “If it is the city’s intent to prohibit the use, a specific municipal code section to that effect would avoid any confusion.”

City staff noted that there weren’t many such ordinances to model Solvang’s rules off of. 

“The city attorney’s office’s limited review of municipal code limitations in other cities did not find absolute bans on this type of use [on private property]. Rather, most cities do not regulate food trucks on private property,” the staff report stated. “Those that do tend to range from making the use permitted in limited zone, to prohibiting the use with the exception of events that are permitted under a temporary use permit or special event permit. 

“The latter type of regulation would allow the city to permit food trucks on private property for a limited time in an appropriate circumstance, such as a special event, but not as a regular occurrence.”

The Solvang Planning Commission ultimately agreed 5-0 to recommend the proposed food truck ordinance to the City Council.

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