Guadalupe considers enforcing first formal restrictions on food trucks

Mobile food vendors operating in Guadalupe will face new regulations if the city decides to approve a newly proposed law.

Members of the Guadalupe City Council recently directed staff to draft a formal food truck ordinance, which will mark the first ordinance of its kind for the city, according to contracted Planning Director Larry Appel.

click to enlarge Guadalupe considers enforcing first formal restrictions on food trucks
File photo by Rebecca Rose
HEAD OVER WHEELS: During its Aug. 22 meeting, the Guadalupe City Council discussed the possibility of adopting an ordinance specific to regulating food trucks, which currently require regular business licenses to operate.

“As you know, the city has no food truck ordinance,” Appel said at the Guadalupe City Council’s Aug. 22 meeting. “We currently approve all business licenses for food trucks and food carts to come through.”

According to the staff report, food trucks and carts are allowed to operate within city limits through business licenses processed by staff, while there are no formal laws in the Guadalupe Municipal Code that regulate trucks and carts specifically.

During the meeting, Appel asked the City Council for direction on whether staff should look into adopting new legislation on mobile food vendors, and named some reasons why a new ordinance could be beneficial to brick-and-mortar businesses in downtown Guadalupe, based on a memo from the Guadalupe Business Association.

The memo summarized a list of complaints from local business owners with regard to food trucks that park downtown. They accused the trucks of “stealing business” from brick-and-mortar restaurants while taking advantage of those restaurants’ restroom facilities and trash cans.

Mayor Ariston Julian acknowledged the memo during the Aug. 22 meeting and said he wouldn’t support an ordinance that banned food trucks from parking downtown.

“We don’t need a major ordinance where it’s overkill, but there needs to be something,” Julian said. “We need some standard.”

Local business owner George Alvarez spoke during public comment and echoed issues raised in the memo, while describing food trucks as having an unfair advantage over brick-and-mortar businesses.

“[Restaurants] have to pay mortgage or rent, a truck doesn’t,” said Alvarez, who described Guadalupe as “a bare-bones community” that needs to “save our existing businesses we have in the restaurant trade.”

From a list of potential ordinance models Appel discussed at the meeting, Councilmember Megan Lizalde spoke in favor of a model similar to Santa Maria’s, which identifies an amount of time a vehicle can stay parked in one location, depending on various factors.

“We don’t have unlimited parking downtown. I don’t see us having a way to limit that without some sort of ordinance,” Lizalde said. “I do think there’s some sort of mechanism that we need to develop, just with clear guidelines.

“I don’t want to deter our businesses from partnering with food trucks because we do have restaurants who may want to partner up, like a coffee shop with a crepe cart,” Lizdale added. “I don’t want to deter that, but I do think time should be limited.”

City staff will return to the Guadalupe City Council with a draft of a potential food truck ordinance at a date to be announced. 

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