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Santa Barbara Officials to Modify Food Truck Rules

City will hold workshop for public input after proposing new street vendor rules to limit hours and ban food trucks near schools

The Santa Barbara City Council is considering rule changes for food trucks and Georgia’s Smokehouse owner Brian Parks said the vendors need a voice in the ordinance process.
The Santa Barbara City Council is considering rule changes for food trucks and Georgia’s Smokehouse owner Brian Parks said the vendors need a voice in the ordinance process.  (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk file photo)

The city of Santa Barbara will soon poll residents to figure out how to best regulate food trucks operating on local streets.

Santa Barbara City Council’s ordinance committee unanimously voted Tuesday to direct staff to develop at least one workshop to gather public opinion on a draft ordinance that could limit when and where food trucks operate.

The city attorney’s office brought up proposed amendments to Santa Barbara’s peddling and soliciting ordinance this week so its rules fall in line with a recent court decision that says California cities can’t impose blanket bans on vending from vehicles on city streets.

Under the Anaheim court case cities can, however, put parameters on when and where the vendors operate — especially if it involves public safety. 

As of now, Santa Barbara requires a permit to peddle or solicit food and non-food items but has a list of prohibited types, including a ban “on or in any street within the city.”

Deputy City Attorney John Doimas presented an amended ordinance focused on street vending in downtown Santa Barbara, typically a busy area for vehicle traffic.

The draft limits street vendors to operating between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. — a cutoff that irked Councilwoman Cathy Murillo, who noted many food trucks serve well after 7 p.m.

“I stop to have a taco myself sometimes,” she said. “I think (vendors) need to be included in this discussion.”

Vendors wouldn’t be able to park on streets for more than an hour at a time, couldn’t be within 500 feet of K-12 schools (from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.) and couldn’t operate on certain streets in the business district to limit impacts on parking or traffic flow.

Each would also need to provide trash receptacles and refrain from playing loud music.

Doimas said the noise aspect applied to ice cream vendors but clarified that pushcart vendors on sidewalks weren’t part of this ordinance.

Murillo wondered if the street vendor ordinance should be looped into zoning code discussions that would allow food trucks to operate on private property, but city staff urged against inclusion.

The current ordinance doesn’t explicitly mention food trucks at all and has been outdated since 1994, city attorney Ariel Calonne said.

Council members asked about food trucks the Santa Barbara Unified School District provides across the street from schools during the academic year and summer. City staff confirmed district officials weren’t in favor of some proposed restrictions.

Brian Parks, who owns and operates Georgia’s Smokehouse food trucks, was cordial and adamant that he be directly involved in the ordinance formation process. He was the only vendor who spoke.

Parks said not serving near schools was of particular concern, since he feeds people at back to school nights, open houses and other events that often start before 4 p.m.

“I do have some other questions,” Parks said, wondering about the difference between operating in commercial versus residential zones.

“Most of our business, if we’re on a public street, it’s in the Funk Zone.”

Ariel said food trucks were singled out in the ordinance because the city had received complaints.

“We do have an issue of what’s the public right of way, what’s the purpose of the street,” said Councilman Randy Rowse, who chairs the committee.

The ordinance committee voted 2-1 to keep the draft ordinance as is, but Murillo opposed because she wanted to extend hours of operation ahead of a workshop.

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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