Elk Grove, CA: City Council to Again Discuss Food Trucks

By Bryan M. Gold | Elk Grove Citizen

Council eyes cuts in general business license fees

The Elk Grove City Council on Aug. 22 will again discuss proposed changes to city food truck laws.

The city’s current ordinance allows food truck operators to sell at one location for 15 minutes between 7 a.m. and 2 p.m.

However, the Elk Grove Planning Commission has recommended the council expand the operating period to two hours in one spot between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m.

Commissioners also agreed that food truck operators should have to conduct business at least 350 feet away from a “building-enclosed restaurant” when operating on public property. The exception is if a business owner grants special approval for a food truck to provide food at an event.

Council members discussed the item on July 11 but delayed action to give organizations and the public more time to provide input and feedback.

Officials with the Elk Grove Chamber of Commerce, the California Restaurant Association (CRA), the recently formed California Mobile Food Association, SactoMoFo, and Brick House restaurant owner Franco Casella support the commission’s recommendation.

Angi Perry, the chamber’s executive director, said the organization’s Board of Directors met with representatives of both Elk Grove’s restaurant industry and the local food truck organizations.

“While both groups agree that this does not currently appear to be a problem and the mobile food vendors are generally respectful of the existing restaurant locations, we feel that this is a necessary protective requirement for the future,” Perry wrote in an Aug. 15 letter to the council.

City staff noted in the council staff report that Daniel Conway, legislative and public affairs director for the CRA, which represents both physical and mobile restaurants, believes every city should have food truck laws reflecting that particular community.

“The CRA strongly believes that distance requirements, such as the 350-foot distance requirement, are essential to crafting a fair and sustainable food truck policy because it allows mobile and stationary restaurants to compete without cannibalizing each other,” staff wrote in its report.

However, city staff recommended in its report to the council that the elected officials consider an ordinance that does not contain wording regarding a specific distance from a restaurant. They noted that the more conservative approach could decrease the city’s exposure to litigation.

Council members will also discuss adopting a resolution to set the fee for business owners to receive and renew their general business licenses.

The fee is currently $110 for a new general business license and $75 for a renewal. However, Brad Koehn, the city’s director of finance and administrative services, noted in his staff report for the council that separating the regulatory process from the business registry activity could result in business owners paying less for a license.

Koehn said the $12 cost includes staff time for questions, managing and processing data, and producing and mailing a license.

If the council approves the change, the annual revenue for general business license fees is projected to decrease from $180,000 to $24,000.

Other agenda items include a public hearing on the fee schedule for planning and building development processing services and a review of a citywide temporary roadside memorial policy.

The Aug. 22 council meeting will begin at 6 p.m. at the council chambers, 8400 Laguna Palms Way.