The City of Hollister took a big step toward boosting the amount of food trucks allowed on public streets following a unanimous vote by the city council during Monday evening’s meeting.

Councilmembers Tim Burns, Rolan Resendiz, Rick Perez and Mayor Mia Casey all voted yes to amend a previous ordinance that prevented mobile food vendors from setting up shop in restricted areas throughout Hollister. Councilmember Dolores Morales was absent from the meeting.

City of Hollister Development Services Director Christy Hopper said in a presentation a new ordinance will take effect July 20. The city will offer three types of annual administrative mobile vending permits that will likely be issued by the planning division and the fee is slated for $156.95. 

Mobile food vendors can apply for all three types, which include short term or long term within the public right-of-way, and on a developed private property.  

The ordinance approval process started April 27 when the planning commission made a unanimous recommendation to seek approval from the city council.

On May 22, the planning commission held a public outreach meeting at City Hall with representatives of the brick and mortar restaurants and the food vendors looking to get in on the action.

“The whole goal of this was to introduce the ordinance and to be able to have a conversation,” she said.

That conversation has now led to the new ordinance, yet there are still some obstacles that could make it challenging. 

For example, mobile food trucks won’t be allowed to park in front of a residence, maintaining 50 feet from a single-family home and no commercial operations on private property such as someone’s driveway.

Some areas in the city that are prohibited due to safety include Fourth Street between Westside Boulevard and Monterey Street, along with South Street. Food truck vendors will not be allowed to park on the diagonal parking spots.

“I’m so excited to see this moving forward,” said councilmember Tim Burns. “I appreciate your comment that this is just the start, we’re not done.” 

Burns asked about the permit being accessible “over the counter” and Hopper clarified the vendors would need to provide documentation including a certificate from the health department and a business license to an extent that it’s required. 

If it’s on private property, food truck vendors need a notarized statement and agreement. 

“If they have all of the documentation then we issue the permit right there,” she said. “It could take a couple of days to get everything together, but definitely just within a couple of days.”

The new ordinance also doesn’t allow vendors to set up at vacant sites in the city but it’s something that Hopper wants to address in the meeting on June 20.

“It’s actually kind of exciting that this possibly could be used for those in the future,” she said. “This particular ordinance would not permit those because there’s not an established use on the site.” 

Casey, who attended the outreach meeting in May, agreed with councilmembers Resendiz and Perez who brought up the idea of going past the 60-minute time limit and extended the cap off time to 1 hour, 59 minutes.

“I don’t want them rushing to do food prep, that’s never a good thing,” Casey said. 

Another main concern brought up during the June 5 meeting was competition, especially for those who have an established brick and mortar business on the busier San Benito Street.

Peter Lago, owner of Johnny’s Bar and Grill on San Benito Street, said the food truck permit fees are minimal compared to the encroachment fee of more than $1,000 he needs to pay in order to use his own alley to host a food vendor for three days.

“I’m certainly not against food trucks whatsoever, I just don’t want to have my kitchen open while I have somebody in front of me,” he said. 

Lago also mentioned based on his experience, the food truck vendors would need at least four hours to set up and prepare for operation. He said he would offer a weekly spotlight at Johnny’s Bar and Grill, which he already does on a monthly basis with Tio’s BBQ based out of Hollister.

Burns said he’s 100% supportive of finding a way to find a permanent spot to house the food trucks.

“I think this council and this administration have expressed the desire that this is kind of a launching point, we’re starting this thing out,” Burns said. “This has got unlimited potential as long as it goes in a positive direction and I have nothing but hope that it will.”

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