On Tuesday, September 7, at 6:00 P.M., the City Council will hold a public hearing on Ordinance No. 2187, which, if adopted, would amend the Newport Municipal Code to allow for food trucks in the city. The public hearing will be held in the City Council Chambers of the Newport City Hall, 169 SW Coast Highway.
Newport’s existing laws limit food carts and food trucks (collectively “mobile food units”) to privately owned commercial property that is at least ½ mile from permanent eating and drinking establishments. Vending of this nature on public property is limited to special events or specifically designated areas, and the City offers a narrow set of licensing options for mobile operators who want to vend from public parking areas, requiring they move every 15 minutes.
The City Council, as part of its goal setting, concluded that it is timely and appropriate to update these laws to provide additional options for individuals that wish to operate a mobile food unit(s) within the city.
The Newport Planning Commission and Commission Advisory Committee held work sessions earlier this year to consider the city’s existing regulations and model ordinances, potential changes they wanted to see to the city’s regulations, and a draft set of proposed amendments. Being satisfied that the amendments accurately reflected desired outcomes, the Planning Commission formally initiated the legislative amendment process in May.
Newport Municipal Code (NMC) Chapter 4.10, related to vending on public property and streets, is being amended to allow mobile food units to setup in commercial and industrial areas for up to two hours, except Nye Beach and the Bayfront where they are limited to designated vending areas. The changes further provide:
a. Size allowances for designated vending areas (as opposed to mobile) may be set by Council resolution, with the expectation that some locations will be large enough that they are suitable for mobile food units; and
b. Vendors must demonstrate that they have obtained all necessary permits from state or local health authorities or other required licenses; and
c. Liability insurance requirements are being increased to match current city requirements; and
d. Existing requirements that mobile vendors in residential areas must move every 15 minutes and are prohibited within 500-feet of schools will be retained; and
e. Licenses to vend in designated vending areas will be issued on a first come, first served basis, except that preference will be given to operators that are renewing their license; and
f. Vending may continue to be allowed as part of an approved Special Events Permit.
Revisions to NMC Chapters 14.01 and 14.09, related to vending on private property, will allow mobile food units on property zoned for commercial, industrial, and water-related uses with property owner consent, subject to a temporary use permit. The changes further provide:
a. Applicants must show that their unit has been licensed by the Lincoln County Health Department and that the location they have selected, and manner in which they are operating, satisfies clear and objective standards designed to promote health and safety and avoid nuisance impacts; and
b. If four or more mobile food units are to be located on a property, the development becomes a Mobile Food Unit Pod, subject to additional standards such as connecting to sewer, permanent power, provision of sheltered outdoor seating, restroom facilities and lighting; and
c. Mobile Food Units must be at least 500 feet from schools and will be allowed only as pods in Nye Beach and the Bayfront.
Proposed amendments to NMC Chapters 11.05 and 12.15 clarify that mobile food units are vehicles that are not subject to building codes, and that System Development Charges are payable only if the development is a pod.
Public hearings before the Planning Commission were held on July 12, 2021 and July 26, 2021 to consider and refine the proposed amendments. Advance notice was provided to interested parties and brick and mortar eating/drinking establishments. Additionally, at the Commission’s request, staff met with the Lincoln County School District to discuss the code concepts. The Commission, after considering evidence and argument in the record, ultimately recommended adoption of the amendments being presented to the City Council at this public hearing.
Two of the most contentious issues are whether or mobile food units should be prohibited within 500 feet of schools, and whether they should be limited to pods on private property in Nye Beach and the Bayfront. The Lincoln County School District requested the 500 foot separation requirement because it is concerned that units located any closer to their facilities would be so attractive to students that it would exacerbate truancy and risk the financial viability of their free lunch program by drawing away too many paying students.
Testimony in favor of limiting mobile food units to pods in Nye Beach and the Bayfront relate to the level of congestion in these tourist-oriented areas, and a concern that allowing an unlimited number of mobile food units would exacerbate those conditions. The Planning Commission agreed with those that raised these concerns. On August 16, 2021, the Newport City Council met in work session to review the proposed amendments and rationale the Planning Commission provided for each of the changes. The Council asked that mobile food units be permitted at large residential construction sites and that change has been incorporated into the draft ordinance. They also provided guidance as to the number of business license vending endorsements that should be made available in Nye Beach and the Bayfront, which is included in the draft Resolution No. 3930.