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Planning Commission (View All)

Planning Commission Study Session Agenda and Minutes

Minutes
Monday, April 24, 2017

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
Patrick Miranda, Chair
David McFadden, Vice Chair
David Culbertson
Joe Foley
Bill Mansfield
Mark McKechnie
Jared Pulver
 
Commissioners Absent
E. J. McManus, Excused Absence
 
Staff Present
Matt Binkley, Planning Director
Kelly Akin, Assistant Planning Director
Kevin McConnell, Deputy City Attorney
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner
Kyle Kearns, Planner II
               
Subject:
 
20.1        DCA-17-007 – Mobile Food Vendors – Update to Standards
 
Kyle Kearns, Planner II, reported that today’s discussion is on mobile food vendors or food trucks.  At the December 12, 2016, Planning Commission study session there was discussion on concerns of brick and mortar restaurants versus food trucks and costs associated with that. 
 
The code pertaining to food trucks has evolved several times.  In 1983 the original code was adopted.  The code adopted in 1994 permitted the size to be 128 square feet.  The City Council in 1997 denied the request to increase the size to 153 square feet.  The City Council in 2009 denied the request to increase the size to 170 square feet.  In 2010 the City Council increased the truck size.  In 2016 the City Council directed staff to draft measures to permit Buttercloud Bakery’s food truck to 200 square feet.
 
Currently, mobile food vendors or food trucks are permitted in all commercial, light and general industrial zones.  They are permitted to be 128 square feet in the Central Business (CB) Overlay and to be 170 square feet outside of the CB Overlay.  They are permitted to be on City property pursuant to permit regulations but excludes rights-of-way.  They do not have to abide by the standards for special events.  When on City property they can exceed the standard size.  Other standards include walkway clearance, improved surface material, private property use, outdoor seating allowance, and they cannot displace parking.
 
At the December 12, 2016, study session the Planning Commission discussed other cities’ codes regarding food standards as well as size standards which included:
•             Medford – 170 square feet (128 in CB Overlay)
•             Grants Pass – No size limit, must meet vehicle code
•             Bend – 250 square feet
•             Eugene – No size limit, must meet vehicle code
•             Portland – 16 feet in length
 
Staff was directed to increase the size and analyze cost of a food trucks compared to a brick and mortar restaurant.
 
The yearly cost (excludes items such as insurance, food, staffing) comparison of food trucks versus brick and mortar restaurants:
 
Cost Comparison of Food Trucks v. Brick and Mortar Restaurants
 
Yearly Cost (excludes items such as insurance, food, staffing)
Line Item                                             Food Truck                                          Brick and Mortar Restaurant
(2,000 square feet)
Business License                              $100.00                                 $100.00
Jackson County Health                  $515.00  - $888.00                             $515.00  - $888.00
Rent (Yearly)                                      Will Vary (will use $6,000)             $15.00-$19.00 per square foot1
Yearly Total                                         $6,615 – $6,888.00                           $30,615.00 – $38,888.00
 
One Time Cost
Line Item                                             Food Truck                                          Brick and Mortar Restaurant
                (2,000 square feet)
Cost of Equipment                          $30,000 - $50,000                              $30,000 - $150,000
Street SDC                                          $0.00**                                                $15,341.26*
Sewer Connection SDC                  $0.00**                                                $2,004.00*
Regional Sewer SDC                        $0.00**                                                $4,348.40*
Water SDC                                          $0.00**                                                $10,242.12 - $13,656.16
One Time Cost Total                       $30,000 - $50,000                              $61,935.78 – $185,349.82
Overall Total for First Year            $36,615 - $56,888                              $92,550.78 – $224.237.82
 
Staff is not proposing changes to the fee system for food trucks because the two uses differ in impacts and are not comparable.  Private property owners leasing space to a vendor have already paid SDCs and have utility hook-ups.  Food trucks do not hook in to utilities, and if they do they will then have to pay SDCs.
 
The proposed changes have been made to incorporate larger mobile food vendor standards (measured by length rather than square footage); allows for mobile food vendors to be in the public rights-of-way from 10:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m., and reflect comments received from the Fire Department.
 
The prosed changes in size measurements include:
•             128 square feet in CB Overlay = 14 feet in length
•             170 square feet outside CB = 20 feet in length
 
Assuming a 10 foot trailer width, this would increase the size permitted by 12 square feet and 30 square feet, respectively.  The cab and bumpers would be excluded.  The food truck would be measured by only the area for food production. 
 
Additional language added under Code Section 10.840 D(3)(a)(2.)(b):
(b) From the hours of 10:00 PM until 2:30 AM, temporary food vendors may locate in on-street parking stalls so long as the temporary food vendor is completely self-contained (not needing utility connections to operate) and must be capable of moving without assistance from another vehicle.  Section 10.840 (D)(3)(2) shall still apply.
 
Staff has prepared a stronger standard for allowing food trucks in public right-of-way.  Still seeking comments from the City’s Legal Department and the Police Department.  Additional language could include:
•             Disallowing trailers in rights-of-way and utility connections
•             Shall not obstruct vehicular or pedestrian traffic
•             Requiring trash receptacle or within 20 feet of public trash can
•             One mobile food vendor per City block
•             Exemption from right-of-way permits (per Section 2.185) during the hours of 10:00 p.m. through 2:30 a.m.
 
Chair Miranda asked, for the “per City block”, is that all four sides of the block or one street of the block?  Mr. Kearns stated they would have to clarify the definition of the City block.
 
Commissioner Culbertson asked, where does the 20 foot length come in in relation to Buttercloud’s truck?  Mr. Kearns reported that Buttercloud has stated their truck is 25 feet in length.  That is why staff is excluding the cab.
 
Matt Brinkley, Planning Director, asked, is the 14 feet in length is a common size for a box truck like what is being discussed?  Portland is 16 feet.  Mr. Kearns stated that 16 feet in length incudes the cab of a standard box truck. 
 
Chair Miranda stated that on Barnett across from the hospital there is small strip where there are several food trucks.  One of the food trucks has a platform that they use for food production.  Would that be counted as or excluded from because it is behind the bumper?  Mr. Kearns replied that seems like a special situation.  They would have to include that in the food production area.
 
Vice Chair McFadden asked, what is the typical size of a parking space downtown?  Mr. Kearns reported on-site is 19 feet.  Parallel parking is 24 feet in length and 80 feet in width.
 
Vice Chair McFadden stated that he is fine with having one food truck on each side per block or between two intersections but protect the restaurants by stating as long as there is not a restaurant on that block.  It is just a thought.
 
Chair Miranda replied that the caveat he would make is if the restaurant has a marketing deal with the food truck
 
Commissioner Pulver thought there was something in the report that if it was within 50 feet of the front of the restaurant they would have to have approval from the restaurant owner.  Commissioner Foley thought that was with another city.  Mr. Kearns reported that the City of Corvallis requires food vendors to get written consent from surrounding business owners for bathroom use.
 
Commissioner Pulver stated that he will probably vote no when this comes before the Planning Commission in a public hearing.  He thinks food trucks make sense in downtown Portland where there are a lot of office buildings and a lot of people.  It is an amenity beneficial to building owners and the employees that work downtown.  What we are as a City and what we want to be as a City is to have a vibrant downtown.  Food trucks are not that.  It does not impact neighboring restaurants in a significant radius.  He would argue that restaurants in the vicinity of the hospital are hurt by the two food trucks.  The restaurants in that area benefit from being the only options there.  He does not think the SDCs are accurate.  He has a lot of problems in increasing the presence and size of food trucks.  Not to mention, this is a single party requesting the size increase.
 
Commissioner Mansfield shares Commissioner Pulver’s views.  He also, is going to vote no.  Makes him wonder why he did not set up his law practice 50 years ago in a law truck and save on the cost of insurance, taxes, etc.  His principal problem is it is an unfair in this free enterprise system that the system is supposed to work fairly.  This does not work fairly because some of these people through the Planning Commission’s actions will permitting people to work for and to earn their living with less cost.  Anyone that runs a business cost is one of the most important things.  Staff commented at the last discussion on this that one of the purposes is to increase economic interest.  He agrees that in our system it is supposed to be done but that goes way down the list for him.  It is his opinion that basically this is unfair to the competitors.
 
Commissioner McKechnie agrees a little with Commissioner Pulver and Commissioner Mansfield and then disagrees more than that.  The analysis of the SDCs is flawed.  The owners of parking lots do not pay SDCs.  They only pay it for buildings.  He likes the idea of changing to length rather than area.  He thinks of that as an enforcement issue.  He understands the logic of smaller trucks downtown.  He agrees they do take business away from fast food places, not sit down restaurants.  From a sustainability aspect the people downtown walk to the food trucks rather than driving.  He is concerned about parking in the public right-of-way.  Parking spaces are designed for 8 foot wide automobiles allowing an extra space to open the vehicle doors.  The trucks or trailers are 10 feet plus that will be poking into the public right-of-way.  He is concerned about the traffic flow around that.  It seemed odd allowing the food trucks to park from 10:00 p.m. to 2:30 a.m.  Why were those times chosen?  Chair Miranda responded that is when the bars are active.
 
Commissioner Culbertson stated it was a great soap box that Commissioner Pulver opened up.  The counter point to that is it should be allowed for Cracker Barrel to go in because it might hurt Panda Express and The Point because of proximity.  The consumer is the ultimate deciders whether or not a business fails or succeeds.  The Planning Commission should not be the judge or jury as to whether or not someone gets to do something in a particular area simply because they are close to a competitor.
 
Commissioner Pulver reported that he would not dispute that if he thought they were paying their fair share.  He thinks what food truck people do is on the cheap.  He does not think they contribute to City fees; right or wrong.  What a brick and mortar restaurateur has to pay versus what a food truck vendor pays is incredible.  Food trucks have less risk and low entry.
                                        
Mr. Brinkley stated that Commissioner Pulver has a point about SDCs for street sewer fees.  The food trucks use the street systems the same way that similar restaurants do.  There is an argument to be made for that.  They do not connect to other City utilities.  If they do, they have to pay the SDCs.  If they connect to sanitary sewer they would have to pay the SDCs unless sanitary sewer fees have already been paid on the property.
 
While it is less expensive to operate a food truck they generate less revenue on a per unit basis as opposed to a bricks and mortar restaurant.  Most of the food trucks are open for one meal a day.  They serve a specific kind of need and demand in the market that is not being met.
 
Some of the food trucks eventually morph into a bricks and mortar restaurant.
 
Commissioner Mansfield stated that where the entrepreneur is using City property they should be paying the City rent.  The City has no business letting someone use its property without paying a reasonable rent value.
 
Commissioner McKechnie asked, will there be a separate parking permit fee where they are parking after hours in the public right-of-way?  Commissioner Mansfield replied, a negotiated lease.  Commissioner McKechnie responded that it would be easier as a fee on a yearly or monthly basis rather than a negotiated lease.
 
Commissioner Pulver asked, who would be monitoring the license, lease or permit?  Mr. Kearns stated that staff has Jackson County’s list of all the food trucks in the area.  There are approximately 54 permits in the City of Medford that go to multiple locations.
 
Vice Chair McFadden asked, does staff feel there are too many holes to move forward on this item or need to discuss it more?  Mr. Kearns asked, what if they went with just the length.  It would not change what is current except for the length.
 
Kevin McConnell asked, how did the right-of-way issue come up?  Was it an issue like Buttercloud where there was a vendor that wanted to operate outside for example Four Daughter’s or something like that?  It was a complaint to the City Council about someone operating a food truck outside a bar.
 
Kelly Akin, Assistant Planning Director, reported that the standards do not apply in the right-of-way or on public property.  If someone wanted to go into a park or on the right-of-way the standards do not apply. 
Mr. Kearns stated that in the code it talks about sales on public property.  That is what restricts it.  Otherwise, there is not much that could stop it.  The Code states: “Unless authorized by other provisions of this Code”.
 
Carla Paladino, Principal Planner, reported that staff would like to move this forward.  The Planning Commission can say at the public hearing they do not like something and staff could scrap it or the right-of-way piece now and just bring the length piece forward.  Staff’s goal is to try and get this off the books to move onto other projects.
 
Chair Miranda commented that if the vehicle is wider than the parking space there should be indicators such as cones or reflectors in order to warn traffic there is something protruding.
 
Commissioner McKechnie is wondering if they are trying to solve a problem that does not currently exist.
Commissioner Culbertson thinks the problem does exist.  Delineating how the measurements are done with the food trucks.  Going on the point of saying the length is measured from here to there is a definitive measurement.  If it goes past that then it is not allowed.  Strip the right-of-way portion and go with the length.
 
Commissioner Culbertson asked, is there a fining structure for one that knows the rules but does not follow them?  Mr. McConnell reported that there have been issues with food trucks that are subject to the City’s Code Enforcement Division.  They can get a daily fine for not abiding the code.
 
Ms. Paladino stated that this was a property owner who purchased something that cannot exist in Medford unless they are at a special event.  The Planning Commission has the authority to have staff work on it or not.  If the Planning Commission feels this is an issue that does not need to be addressed then say no.
 
Mr. Brinkley reported that the City Council can be asked to initiate a code amendment.
 
Vice Chair McFadden thought it came from the City Council anyway.
 
Ms. Akin replied, this one did.
 
Ms. Akin reported that there is a Final Order on the agenda for Thursday, April 27, 2017, Planning Commission meeting.  The applicant has requested staff to continue the adoption of the Final Order.  It has something to do with their financing.  Staff did receive an extension of the 120-days.  This time will be pulled from the agenda and request the Planning Commission to continue the item.
 
30.          Adjournment
The meeting was adjourned at 12:39 p.m.
 
 
Submitted by:
Terri L. Rozzana
Recording Secretary

 
 

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