SEQUIM — The Sequim City Council has planned a June 12 public hearing on loosening municipal code rules for mobile food vendors.
Strict regulations have been in place since 2012, when some council members and business owners said mobile food vendors would impact brick and mortar restaurants.
Work on revisions began in January after council member Vicki Lowe brought up the topic.
“I think it makes it difficult for food trucks to be a business in Sequim,” Lowe said at the Jan. 23 council meeting.
“A lot of things have changed since 2012.”
The council then directed the city’s planning commission to review city code for Mobile Food Service Vendors (chapter 18.65).
The planning commission held multiple meetings in February and March about the potential code change, including a March 21 meeting with most of the 19 speakers in favor of a change, including Caleb Messinger, co-owner of Southern Nibble, which operates under the current guidelines in the city.
The biggest obstacle in the present code, proponents of the code change say, is food truck vendors not being allowed in the city’s downtown core. That means vendors must operate in nonresidential zones west of Fifth Avenue and east of Brown Road.
Additionally, vendors who use a site for more than four hours must leave their sites at the end of each day and not return within 48 hours.
The planning commission’s updated recommendation to the city council omits the location and duration guidelines, but vendors would need to operate within nonresidential zones and leave the premises at the end of each day of operation.
According to city staff, mobile food vendors could be allowed on public or private property with a city approval, and a separate permit is not required for a vendor operating under a city-approved special event permit (8.38).
The council unanimously voted on May 8 to hold a public hearing for potential code changes for mobile food vendors no later than its June 12 meeting. On May 17, the hearing was set for June 12.
On May 8, city attorney Kristina Nelson-Gross said a public hearing may be required by the state Department of Commerce because of potential land use regulation changes.
Council member Rachel Anderson and Kathy Downer requested a public hearing regardless, with Downer saying she’s “gotten some passionate emails about it.”
Council member William Armacost, a self-described “foodie,” said he’s excited about the potential change as it’s “small business owners trying to pursue the American dream.”
He said: “I don’t think the individual proprietor is going to be hurt; it creates a frenzy of more food.”
Mayor Tom Ferrell agreed with moving ahead with changes “in the spirit of competition.”
For more information on the potential code change, visit sequimwa.gov.
Matthew Nash is a reporter with the Olympic Peninsula News Group, which is composed of Sound Publishing newspapers Peninsula Daily News, Sequim Gazette and Forks Forum. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.