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Taco Truck Throwdown

In this Sentinel file photo, people stand in line for this food truck during the Taco Truck Throwdown in downtown Hanford.

HANFORD — After making the issue one of its priorities for the year during its goals and objectives meeting, the Hanford City Council met Tuesday and started the first of what will probably be several discussions on the city’s food truck ordinance.

The first discussion on Tuesday was merely an effort for city staff to gather information and take direction from Council on what members would like to see in a possible new ordinance.

Right now, existing regulations in the city state that it is unlawful for mobile vendors to park for more than 10 minutes at a time in one place, said Community Development Director Darlene Mata. She also said food trucks are not allowed to park off the street unless it is for a special event with a permit.

Mata presented Council with information on what other local cities do in terms of food trucks — like permits, fees, background checks, insurance requirements, locations and other specifics — and asked members what their vision for the city is.

During public comment, Michelle Brown, executive director of Main Street Hanford, said she has many ideas about using food trucks as a downtown revitalization tool. One of the ideas is allowing food trucks on Court Street near Civic Park Friday and Saturday nights, where people can eat, walk around and enjoy downtown.

“I think there is a way that we can use this trend of food trucks to our advantage and to the advantage of some of the small businesses,” Brown said.

Several others were supportive of allowing food trucks, including Joey Joslin, Hanford Chamber of Commerce executive director.

“Competition breeds innovation and innovation breeds growth,” Joslin said.

Council members were enthusiastic about Brown’s Civic Park idea, perhaps making it a regular occurrence — provided no other event is scheduled.

Councilman Francisco Ramirez said he would like to look into some of the zoning issues so that The Hanford Mall would also be allowed to have food trucks locate in the parking lot sometimes, without it having to be designated a special event.

Mayor Sue Sorensen added she would like to have a rotation of vendors so every food truck gets a chance to attend. She said this would not only allow the community to go out and have a variety, but may also generate interest from the vendors in establishing brick-and-mortar businesses in the city.

“We want them to come, enjoy our community and hopefully become a part of it,” Sorensen said.

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Council was receptive to allowing food trucks on private property as long as there is permission from the business owner and property owner and access to restrooms, and that they would be allowed in residential areas for catering events.

They all agreed that there should definitely be fingerprinting and background checks for the vendors and insurance requirements.

Council members also made it clear that there would be parameters.

Besides Civic Park, members seemed to agree that city property would otherwise be off limits and that food trucks would not be allowed to take up permanent residence in one spot.

They also wanted so see some time requirements and distance requirements as it pertains to other restaurant businesses and schools, perhaps 300-400 feet away.

Mata said city staff would look into all of Council members’ concerns and come back with ideas for a proposed ordinance based on their direction.

Cannabis

While Council talked at length and held a public hearing during its last meeting about changes to the city’s cannabis ordinance, those changes were officially adopted Tuesday and will take effect 30 days from the vote.

The item was passed 4-1, with Councilman Art Brieno being the only “no” vote.

The changes include:

  • Deleting the limitation that cannabis business permits are limited to medical only.
  • The addition of micro-business and store-front and non-store front dispensaries as allowed permits.
  • Operating requirements for a dispensary/storefront retail facilities (to be located downtown).
  • Operating requirements for delivery services (to be located in the Industrial Park).
  • Operating requirements for dispensary/non-storefront retail.
  • Operating requirements for distributors.
  • Operating requirements for testing laboratories.
  • Operating requirements for micro-businesses.

Mata said her phone has not stopped ringing regarding interest in cannabis after Council decided to move forward with these changes.

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The reporter can be reached at 583-2423 or jzavala@hanfordsentinel.com

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