Currently, food trucks and other mobile vendors are not permitted within city limits without first acquiring a temporary-use permit. However, such permits are restrictive in nature, limiting the number of days and places mobile vendors can operate.
“That doesn’t work for what some mobile vendors are trying to do,” city planner Jim Rundle said at a planning commission meeting last month.
City staff has proposed three primary regulations for food trucks.
First, mobile vendors will have to acquire a business license. Second, they can only operate on private property. Finally, they cannot operate within 300 feet of an established restaurant.
“Our goal was to prohibit (food trucks) from, for the lack of a better word, preying on established restaurants,” Rundle told the council.
Moreover, food trucks cannot operate in the same location for more than four hours within any 24-hour time period.
According to city staff reports, “The proposed regulations include … numerous requirements to conform to the same Washoe County District Health standards that apply to a fixed-base restaurateur.”
The Reno City Council has approved a similar ordinance, though one major difference between the two is that Reno wants to impose only a 100-foot barrier between food trucks and established restaurants.
Reno also prohibits food trucks from operating within 300 feet of a school without consent from school administrators.
City planner Armando Ornelas said enforcing such a restriction in Sparks could be difficult given public right-of-way laws.
“I would say it’s somewhat problematic,” he added.
City staff met with about 25 mobile vendors earlier this month to discuss the proposed regulations and solicit input on possible revisions. However, some vendors in attendance Monday said they had not had time to review the final draft legislation.
This concern prompted the council to postpone a vote on the matter until March 26.
In other news, the City Council voted in favor of extending the life of a special-use permit to two years from six months in order to give businesses and developers more time and leeway to operate in the current economic slowdown.
City planner Tim Thompson said that in the event that a business vacates a property before the life of its special-use permit ends, the ordinance change allows property owners more time to find a new tenant with similar permitting needs.
Finally, the council approved the allocation of nearly $190,000 in funds for the city’s biggest special events taking place in 2012.
The Sparks Tourism & Marketing Committee allocates these funds.
More than $67,000 will go to the Brand Leadership Team for advertising, posters and signs, a tour for potential special events producers, an appreciation luncheon and public relations contract; $5,000 will go to The Chamber for Star Spangled Sparks; $20,000 to Beach Sports Network for a watercross and beach volleyball event; $10,000 to Expedition Man Endurance Festival for a triathlon; $57,000 to John Ascuaga’s Nugget for Farmer’s Market, Star Spangled Sparks and the Best in the West Nugget Rib Cook-off; and $30,000 to Roadshows, Inc. for the Street Vibrations spring and fall rallies.