Food trucks are popping up in towns across Oregon more and more every year. And Roseburg is no exception.
But Roseburg city codes aren’t designed in a way that adequately accounts for how these new businesses operate, according to local food truck owners. Last week, the city took its first steps toward changing codes to better regulate food trucks. Food truck owners said there are still problems, however.
Until last week, food truck owners in Roseburg had to obtain a “temporary use permit,” which required them to notify all property owners within a 100-foot radius of their presence, potentially necessitating a public hearing. That proved impossible, because food trucks are mobile. The process could take up to 45 days, according to Community Development Director Stuart Cowie.
After receiving complaints from food truck owners, the city changed the language of its “mini-retail business” code to include food trucks on Oct. 22. Food trucks are now permitted outright on all private property designated as commercial or industrial land use as long as the food truck has permission from the property owner.
While the changes made it easier for entrepreneurs to start a food truck in Roseburg, city code still prohibits food trucks from parking on city streets and selling to people on sidewalks.
Food trucks often park downtown on Southeast Jackson Street and sell to customers of businesses such as Draper Draft House and Trella Vineyards. Those businesses have a relationship with the food truck owners but they don’t have a private parking lot where food trucks could park. That practice has always been against city code, but the city has overlooked it.
“There are lots of food trucks that will park in front of a building, and that doesn’t mean we’re going to go after them and say, ‘Hey, get out of here,’” Cowie said. “If there’s a case where we need to enforce it, then we’ll have to enforce it.”
In Bend, another city with a growing number of food trucks, vendors are allowed to park on public property such as city streets as long as they follow specific guidelines. In Eugene, food trucks are allowed to park on public property in two areas of the city: at one intersection near the University of Oregon and downtown when the Saturday Market is open.
Cowie said the changes the city made last week were specifically aimed at addressing issues with permitting food trucks.
He said the city has received complaints from brick and mortar businesses downtown, that said food trucks that park on public property illegally are stealing potential customers. Restaurants in downtown buildings pay property taxes that food trucks don’t.
The number of food trucks in Roseburg grows every year, according to Roseburg Fire Marshal Monte Bryan, who inspects food trucks annually to make sure they comply with fire code.
In 2017, Bryan inspected 17 food trucks. In 2018, that number grew to 31. Eleven new food trucks registered business licenses in Roseburg this year.
Jason Peralta is the owner of The Bun Stuffer, a Roseburg food truck that sells burgers and sandwiches, and frequently parks outside Draper Draft House. Peralta said the city never made it clear to him that he wasn’t allowed to sell to people on sidewalks from city streets. Code enforcement has never confronted him, he said.
“It’s a bummer,” Peralta said. “We have been doing that. Not every day and not every week, but if there’s an event happening, I’m friends with the owner at Draper’s, you know, we were there the other day for their Halloween party. So it’s unfortunate.”
Peralta said he hopes the city will create a process that will allow him to legally park and sell food on city streets soon. He said he may want to attend city council meetings in the future to voice his concern.
City councilors discussed the issue at their meeting last Monday.
“I’m sure there are probably plenty that would say, ‘Hey, I’m gonna be here for an hour or two,’ but what about those that say, ‘I’m parking here for a day or two,’” Cowie told City Council when asked why food trucks cannot park and sell on city streets.
Councilors Steve Kaser and Ashley Hicks asked Cowie whether or not there was a process in place to allow food trucks to continue vending from city streets legally.
Cowie said there currently isn’t.
Councilor Tom Ryan voiced support for the city codes currently in place.
“I think if I owned a restaurant in downtown or any place and a food truck came and parked in my parking place I might be a little upset,” Ryan said. “I think anybody would be upset with that and I think we kind of have to protect our brick and mortar restaurants also.”