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Agenda & Minutes

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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Monday, December 12, 2016

The study session of the Medford Planning Commission was called to order at noon in the Lausmann Annex Room 151-157 on the above date with the following members and staff in attendance:
Commissioners Present
David McFadden, Vice Chair
Tim DíAlessandro
David Culbertson
Joe Foley
Bill Mansfield
Mark McKechnie
Jared Pulver
Commissioner Absent
Patrick Miranda, Chair, Excused Absence
Staff Present
Kelly Akin, Interim Planning Director
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney
Carla Paladino, Interim Principal Planner
Kyle Kearns, Planner II
1.            GF-16-154           Temporary Mobile Food Vendors
Kyle Kearns, Planner II, reported that Buttercloud Bakery asked for the City to reconsider the standards for mobile food vendors to increase the allowed square footage to allow for their 200 square foot truck currently in Central Point. City Council directed the Planning Commission to decide if a code amendment shall be initiated.
Food trucks have been permitted since 1993-1994.  The code has been revised several times to accommodate similar requests.  Currently food trucks are allowed to be 128 square feet in the Central Business Overlay. They are not allowed to have outdoor equipment.  Outside of the Central Business Overlay the trucks are allowed to be 170 square feet with an additional 170 square feet of seating and tables.  When on City property, food vendors are exempt from requirements.  Awnings are permitted, if smaller than food vendor, must be on an improved surface, business license is needed, must be within ten feet of trash receptacle and site plan is needed.
Other Oregon cities such as Portland the size limitation is regulated by length, not square footage.  If the length is 16 feet or shorter and on wheels it does not require a permit for cart.  Longer than 16 feet is considered a heavy truck and restricted to certain zones.  Without wheels falls subject to development standards.  Permits are required for utility connections, propane use, outdoor structures and similar things.
Corvallisís code is similar to Medfordís.  They are less generous in size requirements. They do not allow above 128 square feet and/or 16 feet in length.  They are restricted to the Central Business and Riverfront zones.  Code requires food truck owner to get written consent from surrounding businesses to allow restroom use for food truck patrons.  Spacing of 10 feet between trucks is required.
Grants Pass has no size limitation but must meet Oregon Vehicle Code and be moveable.  They are only permitted on certain streets/zones.  Grouping of food trucks is permitted, but a site plan review is required and the grouping must be on private property and paved.
Bend has a size limitation of 250 square feet.  Food carts are not exempt from traditional development standards except for parking (treated as a ďmini-restaurantĒ).
Eugene has no size limitation, but must meet Oregon Vehicle Code and be moveable.  They are allowed in certain public rights-of-ways, parks, sidewalks and private property.  City has designated certain areas as mobile food unit zones.
Salem is similar to Eugene.  There is no size limitation, but must meet Oregon Vehicle Code and be moveable, requires zoning and land use requirements to be followed, and pick up trash within a 20 foot radius.
Phoenix is similar to Medfordís code.  Size limitation is 170 square feet (includes slide outs).  It is a staff decision and requires that all equipment be moved at the end of the vendorís business day.  Permits last for a year.
Central Point did not get into the specifics of how they look at food trucks.  They are allowed within two zoning districts, those being the Tourist and Office Professional District and the Thoroughfare Commercial District.
The City Council has asked the Planning Commission to research temporary mobile food vendors and then give direction as to whether a code amendment is needed or not.  The request to consider is an increase in the allowable square footage for food trucks.  Increasing the size of mobile food vendors would allow more business opportunities in Medford, but may receive some push back from the business community.
Vice Chair McFadden stated that he is concerned with City Councilís issues are less about size of the truck and more about the lack of consistency between the similar uses.  He does not know what they mean by that.
Commissioner Foley reported that he does not know what kind of inspections food trucks have.  Ms. Paladino stated that would come from the Jackson County Health Department.
Commissioner Mansfield stated that it appears the existing ordinance permits these temporary uses on public property, City owned property and private property.  Is that correct?  Ms. Paladino replied yes.
Commissioner Mansfield asked does the City charge a rental for a food truck on public right-of-way?  Vice Chair McFadden commented that he thought they could not be in the public right-of-way.  Ms. Paladino reported that there are designated locations.  It is administered through the City Managerís office.
Commissioner Mansfield stated that even if they are not in a public right-of-way some of them are in City owned property which means these people are getting a free ride.  If someone wants to do a restaurant downtown they will have to either rent or buy the property and pay taxes.
Ms. Akin reported that the locations in the right-of-way have an annual fee.
Commissioner Mansfield asked what change does Buttercloud want?  Commissioner DíAlessandro stated that their truck is larger than what is permitted.  Mr. Kearns reported that Buttercloudís truck is 200 square feet.
Commissioner DíAlessandro stated that as someone employed by a tax supported entity he needs to understand the issue of vendors on City owned property.  If his company leases to a food vendor on one of their properties they have to collect property taxes for the square footage they occupy and they have to pay property taxes on that.  Is the City held to that same standard?  Ms. Akin replied that is a good question but she does not know the answer to that. 
Commissioner McKechnie reported that he is not a City employee but based if it is a for profit organization then the City has to pay property taxes.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that to build a brand new restaurant in the City of Medford the fees are very expensive; primarily with traffic, sewer and water SDC fees.  They can easily run $50,000 to $80,000.  Remodel gets some credit of what was there before but the developer is still liable for that.  If the previous development happened to be more intense the credit is short.  It is his understanding that the temporary food vendors do not pay any of those fees.  Does staff know the logic of why they are not paying those fees?  Mr. Kearns reported that the intent of the food truck is a small starter business where they do not have all the fees and restrictions.
Commissioner Mansfield commented that when he started his law practice why didnít he get that benefit?
Commissioner Pulver stated that food carts are a big part of downtown Portland.  It is a good idea there so people started trying it in other metropolitan areas in the State.  As a code standpoint everyone is trying to catch up.  In a general sense he is anti-food carts because they more or less circumvent traditional restaurants.  They provide a healthy level of competition to an existing restaurant in a traditional bricks and mortar situation and probably unfairly so.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that he thinks everyone is familiar with the bento lady on Riverside and Main.  She was successful and moved into a building around the corner for a month or so but then moved back out on the street.  Obviously they were not as successful as a traditional restaurant.
Vice Chair McFadden commented that location is the name of the game in the food business.
Commissioner Pulver would be in favor updating the code.  He believes there is a place for food carts in the downtown. 
Commissioner McKechnie asked if there was a fee for a food cart?  Mr. Kearns reported a business license. 
Commissioner McKechnie asked if food carts pay the same amount for a business licenses as any other business?  Ms. Paladino reported they are the same.
Commissioner McKechnie stated that it is his opinion that if food carts are using City services, they should be paying for it; just like a regular restaurant.  Putting a limitation on size is foolish.
Commissioner Culbertson reported that looking at the other cities there are a lot of similarities in the mobile truck vendors.  Piecing it apart to allow one particular person, who did not pay attention to the code when he was creating it, how far does Medford go?  At the Southern Oregon Golf Tournament there was a food truck vendor at Hole 13.  That is zoned SFR-4.  He was outside of the zoning.  How did he get permitted to be there?  He either did it without asking anyone or nobody paid attention to the code.  Ms. Paladino stated that the vendor could have been there under a special event permit.
Commissioner DíAlessandro stated that the fundamental question is there going to be change based on one vendorís misinterpretation or ignorance of the code.  Is the code fair the way it is now in terms of size?  It is his opinion that it is a great business and there is room for it.  Does the City want the trucks larger?
The meeting was adjourned at 12:49 p.m.
Submitted by:
Terri L. Rozzana
Recording Secretary

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