Council Receives Draft Ordinance on Food Vendors

Mobile Food Vendor Draft Ordinance
Hermiston City Councilor John Kirwan, center, goes over the draft ordinance on mobile food vendors.

Hermiston moved one step closer Monday night to regulating mobile food vendors within the city.

The Hermiston City Council’s subcommittee on mobile food vending presented its draft of a proposed ordinance regulating vendors to the full council on Monday. A public hearing on the draft ordinance will be held at the council’s Aug. 26 meeting.

Key points in the draft ordinance include:

• The city will issue a maximum of nine business licenses. There are currently nine mobile vendors in Hermiston.
• Mobile vendors must move off their site at the end of each day and may only operate between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. They will, however, be able to operate in one location for as long as they like.
• Vendors may only operate from an approved location, one that meets the city’s criteria of safety, parking and setbacks.
• Vendors must be at least 400 feet from other vendors and restaurants.
• Vans and trailers will be allowed, however, by 2023 only vans will be allowed.

The mobile food vendor subcommittee consists of Hermiston City Councilors George Anderson, John Kirwan and Manuel Gutierrez.

“The three of us are trying to be as fair as we can to everybody – the city, the mobile vendors and adjacent businesses,” Anderson said. “And we’re trying to make this a positive for the city rather than a negative.”

The mobile vendors will be the only businesses in Hermiston required to have a business license to operate. The subcommittee’s draft ordinance allows licensed mobile food vendors to sell their license in the future.

“A license is a very valuable thing,” Anderson said. The draft ordinance also calls for some basic appearance standards. By 2019, all vendors must be painted white or neutral colors.

“We don’t want some old rust bucket out there,” he said.

Hermiston City Councilor Lori Davis asked if the regulations would be burdensome to enforce.

“In my opinion, this is enforceable,” said Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshier.

The subcommittee also recommended the city consider allowing mobile food vendors in its M-1 light industrial zone. Currently, the city’s zoning ordinances prohibit vendors from operating in its C-1 downtown commercial zone as well as its M-1 zone. Brookshier strongly opposed allowing mobile food vendors to operate in an M-1 zone. He said potential industries looking to locate in Hermiston would be turned off by the site of mobile food vendors operating near an area in which they are looking to locate.

“I’m speaking as someone who is actively involved in economic development and I’m saying this is a bad idea,” Brookshier said. Anderson disagreed, saying any land owner would require a mobile food vendor to vacate the premises before it risked losing a potential land sale.

The M-1 zoning debate centers around the presence of Lutong Filipino, a mobile food vendor currently located at 680 W. Harper Road, which is in an M-1 light industrial zone. Council members said it was possible to allow an exemption for Lutong Filipino.

The nine current mobile food vendors that would be eligible for a mobile vending license include:

• Tacos San Pedro, 240 S.W. 11th St.
• Tacos La Princesa, 672 E. Main St.
• Tacos El Trebo, 550 S. Highway 395
• Taqueria Tecoman, 1930 N. First St.
• Pinos Real Tacos, 567 E. Main St.
• Sharon’s Dutch Oven, 1845 N. First St.
• Luton Filipino, 680 W. Harper Road
• Tacos Xavi, 1390 N. First St.
• Tacos Paricutin, 1725 N. First St.

Subcommittee members singled out Tacos Paricutin as the one mobile food vendor in Hermiston that is truly mobile. The operator leaves the location at the end of each day and returns the next morning.