Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Eureka Wants Your Food Truck Suggestions

Posted By on Tue, Jan 5, 2016 at 3:06 PM

click to enlarge Shave ice in Eureka? OK! - COURTESY OF THE CITY OF EUREKA
  • Courtesy of the city of Eureka
  • Shave ice in Eureka? OK!
Dying to eat somewhere a little less brick-and-mortary? Or maybe you’re looking to bring your ramen-burrito fusion to life without the full risk and investment of a restaurant? (Actually, don’t steal that, that’s mine.)
The city of Eureka wants to hear from consumers and entrepreneurs about food trucks. Tapping into nationwide popularity for the small, mobile, cheap-to-operate restaurants, city staff has asked people to come to the Wharfinger Building at 6 p.m. Thursday to talk about strategies, needs and desires and to gauge interest in making city laws more food-truck friendly in Eureka.

Anticipating that the city will recommend ordinance changes in the coming months, staff wants people and food-related organizations to weigh in on a variety of food truck models: clusters of food trucks at outdoor events, trucks serving from public areas and trucks operating on private property.

Each of these models, planners hope, could open up the variety and availability of cuisine around the city. And, if you can't make the meeting, Assistant Planner Brian Heaton is ready to field your comments and can be reached at 441-4160 or bheaton@ci.eureka.ca.gov.

From the city:

Whether it’s a food festival, lunch on the street, a late night taco at bar-closing time or a shaved ice from a sidewalk cart on a hot day, Mobile Food Facilities are growing in popularity throughout the nation. Commonly known as “Food Trucks,” Mobile Food Facilities are mini-restaurants, mini-coffee shops, and other mini-food-serving businesses that operate within trucks, carts, trailers, and other mobile facilities.

Currently, Mobile Food Facilities are very restricted in Eureka due to existing City regulations. Eureka’s Development Services Department has begun to explore ways to change how the City regulates these small mobile businesses. Preliminary research shows that there are a number of ways to regulate food trucks, with each municipality in the state approaching the topic in different ways. Since food trucks are a new concept for some in Eureka, the City of Eureka is inviting the public to participate in a workshop on January 7, 2016, at the Wharfinger Building, 1 Marina Way, at 6 pm.

The City is seeking feedback from prospective food truck operators, owners of existing restaurants, and anyone interested in providing feedback regarding how the City should formulate the new regulations.

Mobile Food Facilities can be classified into several categories. The first category is “food truck pods,” which are approved congregations of Mobile Food Facilities at specific locations at set times. In some cases, “pods” are permitted at scheduled events such as Arts Alive. The pod format allows the public to browse various dining options in a fair-like atmosphere, which often leads to more business for nearby brick-and-mortar businesses on the surrounding streets. Both stand-alone food truck pods and those associated with special events have been very successful, and are a regular feature of community calendars in various locations across the state.
The second category of Mobile Food Facilities are “Curb-side Mobile Food Facilities” (a.k.a. “On-street Vendors”) which are single mobile food businesses that temporarily park in curb-side parking areas for a few hours at a time. The third category is “Off Street Vendors,” which drive onto private property each day and then leave the site each day.

City Staff will be facilitating the workshop on January 7th to hear thoughts, ideas, and concerns about food truck pods, on-street and off-street vending, traffic safety, parking, locations of operation, hours of operation, and existing uses that may require buffers (e.g. schools).

In addition to the general public, restaurant and bar owners, small business development, and food related organizations are encouraged to attend. The workshop will be informal and the goal is to gather ideas for regulating food trucks in the City of Eureka. Comments can be submitted in writing before the workshop to Assistant Planner Brian Heaton at bheaton@ci.eureka.ca.gov, or contact the Development Services Department at 441-4160 if you have questions.

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About The Author

Grant Scott-Goforth

Grant Scott-Goforth has been an assistant editor and staff writer for The Journal since 2013.

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