Turlock, CA: Council to Revisit Downtown Food Truck Ban


By Brandon McMillan  |  Turlock City News


Turlock City Council is expected to finally vote on the controversial food truck ban in areas of Downtown Turlock on Tuesday evening.
If approved by Council, food trucks would be banned in three Downtown Overlay Districts — the Downtown Core, Downtown Core Transition, and Office-Residential districts. Food trucks would still be allowed in some areas surrounding Downtown’s core.

The ban, which has been in talks since 2013, has come before Council on previous occasions but has never come to a vote.

In October 2014, Council chose to table the vote until a January 2015 meeting, however, at that meeting it was decided that the item would go back through the Planning Commission.

The controversial ban has been passed through Planning Commission on two separate occasions, however, not without controversy.

Planning Commission originally approved the food truck ban, however, just barely on a 4-3 majority, in March of 2014. At the time, the food truck ban was part of a request to repeal and replace the zoning ordinance in its entirety; the zoning ordinance was largely uncontroversial, minus the food truck ban.

On March 5, Planning Commision once again revisited the item out of an “abundance of caution,” according to City Attorney Phaedra Norton. After a split vote, 3-3, to recommend the item to Council for final approval, staff recommended the commission ultimately move the item forward. After discussion with staff, the item was referred to Council on a 6-0 vote, with Commissioner Eric Gonsalves abstaining.

On Tuesday, Turlock City Council will finally vote to approve or deny the controversial food truck ban.

Supporters of food trucks in areas of Downtown Turlock have argued that the food vendors create jobs and can be more aesthetically pleasing than an empty lot. However opponents argue that the mobile vendors do not face the same stringent – and costly – building codes and laws that brick-and-mortar businesses do, allowing a competitive advantage on prices.

If approved, while food trucks would be banned in areas of Downtown Turlock, food vendors would still be able to apply for a conditional use permit for a private parcel to have food trucks, similar to the area of the taco trucks on East Avenue, even within the banned areas of Downtown Turlock. The permit would require approval by the Planning Commission, however.

Unlike when the debate first began in 2013, there are no food vendors currently operating in the areas in question, Deputy Director of Development Services Debbie Whitmore said at the March Planning Commission meeting, most likely due to the previous moratoriums issued by the City of Turlock.

On Tuesday, Turlock City Council will also:

  • Make a proclamation implementing increased water restrictions within the City of Turlock.
  • Consider request to repeal and replace the zoning ordinance in its entirety.
  • Consider request to reject all bids and purchase four trucks and one SUV from Downtown Ford Sales of Sacramento for the Municipal Services and Parks, Recreation and Public Facilities departments in an amount not to exceed $123,909.
  • Consider a five-year lease between the State of California, Military Department and City of Turlock for use of Soderquist Field for recreational purposes.

Turlock City Council will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday in the Yosemite Room of City Hall, 156 S. Broadway.