P&Z: Food Truck Regulation


Mobile Food Vending Proposed Ordinance Changes 7/8/11 Review

  1. New definitions:
Mobile food site means an individual parcel where mobile food vending is permitted to occur on a permanent basis

Mobile food vending means commercial food service sales by a mobile food vendor on a parcel of land outside of right-of-way areas. Sites approved for permanent mobile food vending are classified as a mobile food site.

Mobile food vendor means an individual who owns and operates a vehicle (truck or trailer with a maximum of two axles that includes a mobile kitchen that supports the sale and/or preparation of food and non-alcoholic beverages which is licensed and approved to walk-up customers.  

  1. Temporary uses (already exist in the UDO) – minor changes proposed here:
Temporary mobile food sales.  Temporary mobile food vendors, pushcarts or stands may be allowed in all non-residential districts outside of the downtown area Central Business District, corresponding to the Downtown Design Review Overlay District, provided that uses/structures for mobile food sales are compliant with the following standards.

  1. Hours of operation.  Temporary food vendors and stands shall be allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. with specific hours of operation indicated on the temporary use permit. Locations within 200’ of a residential use will have reduced hours of 6:00 a.m. until midnight.

  1. Proximity to public right-of-way. All sales shall be conducted at least ten feet from all public rights-of-way.

  1. Health department approval. Any food service operation that sells, prepares or serves food must obtain an approved mobile food service permit from the Buncombe County Health Department and is subject to inspection.

  1. Display of permit.  A copy of the valid, approved permit must be attached to the exterior of the truck or mobile kitchen, in clear view of all patrons.

  1. Proposed wording amendment to make mobile vending a permanent use on a site. In order to establish this use the following regulations must be followed:
a.   Use Districts: Office, Office II, Office Business, Community Business I, Community Business II, Institutional, Highway Business, Regional Business, Central Business, River, Commercial Industrial, Light Industrial, Industrial, Urban Village, Neighborhood Corridor, Urban Place

b. Permitting: Permitting to establish mobile food vending as a permanent use will incorporate the following permits:
1. Permitting the mobile food site: Mobile food vending will only be allowed on parcels with an approved development permit with the actual number of vendors permitted dependent on site conditions and the ability to comply with spacing requirements outlined in section ‘c.’ below.
2. Permitting the mobile food vendor: A mobile food vendor is required to obtain a permit for each separately approved mobile food site where vending will occur, according to the following regulations and also meeting regulations outlined in ‘d.’ below:
a. A mobile food vendor is permitted to vend at more than a single site but each location must be approved by individual permit.  
b. The Mobile Food Vendor permits will be renewed annually along with requirements for the Buncombe County Health Department.
c. The number of permits issued to individual mobile food vendors for the downtown Central Business District will be limited to 10.  Vendors may vend from multiple locations subject to the ability to meet other requirements.
d. Mobile food vendor permits will run with the calendar year and existing vendors will have the option to renew.
e.    Mobile food vendor permits shall include the addresses and hours of operation for the business.  Hours may be changed with 48 hours notice to the Development Services Center.  
f. Permits from Buncombe County and the City of Asheville shall be visually displayed on the mobile kitchen.
g. Copies of other required permits will be submitted with the mobile food vendor permit application.
h.    Operating without a valid permit will be considered a criminal misdemeanor and enforceable as such.  Violations of the approved permit for the mobile food vendor shall be considered a violation of this chapter and subject to the enforcement and penalty provisions of article XVIII of this chapter

c. Site Improvements:  The permit to establish a mobile food site will require approval of a site plan illustrating the proposed placement of the mobile food vendor(s) and the following items:
1. Access into the site and parking for vendor patrons at the rate of one parking space per mobile food vendor (applicable only if off-street parking is required in the zoning district).
2. Landscaping- The site will be improved to meet the standard for street trees.  In addition the affected area of the site will provide a minimum eight-foot wide property line buffer* when directly adjacent to residentially zoned and used parcels.  This buffer should be planted to include a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs to result in a vegetative screen that is 75% opaque year-round.  As an alternative, the buffer may be reduced by 50% with the installation of an opaque fence. Existing buildings that screen the impacts of the mobile food vendor(s) will be considered a substitute for the property line buffer or portions thereof.
3. Sidewalks: Sidewalks will be required along the frontage lines of the parcel if the road is designated on the City’s needed linkages sidewalk list.
4. Site maneuvering: Each mobile food vendor will need sufficient space for maneuvering onto the lot, for safe access by pedestrians, and for emergency response.
5. Setbacks: Setbacks for individual mobile food vendors will be ten feet from side and rear property lines and other parked vehicles (if any). There is not a required setback from the frontage line except that no portion of the mobile food vendor will be permitted to encroach into the right-of-way.
6. Other site features: Permitting for the mobile food site will take into consideration the ability for the primary site user to maintain compliance with minimum parking standards (if there is one) referencing the specific zoning district standards as described in the UDO.
7. Permanent electric power infrastructure is the preferred method for supplying power at the mobile food site.  If this is pursued, then the proper applicable permits must be obtained.

d. Other requirements for mobile food vendors:
        1. No mobile food vendors will be permitted to vend in a public street, sidewalk or right-of-way.
        2. All mobile food vendors are required to maintain permits issued by the Buncombe County Health Department and the City of Asheville will defer to Buncombe County for health and food safety regulations.
        3. All mobile food vendors shall leave the mobile food site when they are not in operation.
        4. Aside from festivals or special events that are permitted under separate event permits, the mobile food vendor will be required to maintain a list of the location(s) for operating the vending unit.
        5. Mobile food vendors will be limited to the sale of food and non-alcoholic drinks.  The sale of other merchandise or services will not be permitted.
        6. Mobile food vendors are encouraged to use recyclable and/ or compostable containers, cups and utensils.
        7. Hours of operation: (a) Mobile food vendors will be limited to the hours of 6:00 a.m. until midnight if they are within 200 feet of a residential use (locations in the downtown Central Business District excluded); (b.) Mobile food vendors who are not located within 200 feet of a residential use or are located in the downtown Central Business District may not operate between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.    
        8. The mobile food vendor(s) will be required to remove trash and litter from the mobile food site each day and to maintain the cleanliness of the site during hours of operation.  The vendor must provide a minimum of one receptacle for use by patrons.
        9. The mobile food site will be subject to the outdoor lighting and noise ordinance standards established by the City of Asheville.
        10. Outside power for the mobile food vendors may be provided by electric power pedestals as a preferred method or by a generator(s) operating at 65 decibels*2 or  less and which are properly attached per manufacturer’s standards to the mobile food vehicle.  Mobile food vendors utilizing a generator may not operate closer than 100 feet to a residential use, unless the generator operates at less than 50 decibels in which case distance will not be restricted except by other setbacks.
        11. Vendors may not bring tables and chairs to the mobile food site except that a single chair may be brought by the vendor for use by staff. In addition stand-alone tents, shade clothes, steps, etc. may not be brought to the site by vendors.
        12. Mobile food vendors shall maintain 20 feet between other mobile food vendors based on fire code separation.  
        13. Vendors will be subject to random inspections to ensure compliance with all applicable requirements.
        14. Signage: Mobile food vendors may have signage on their vehicle, not to exceed 32 square feet total per vehicle including letters and/or logo advertising the business. Square footage may be divided between a maximum of two faces. No roof signs will be allowed.  A single attached menu board totaling 6 square feet is also allowed for each truck.  
Items considered but not included in the proposed ordinance:
  • Should we (or can we) restrict permits to Buncombe County residents only? If not, should there be a higher fee for non-City or non-Buncombe County residents? Not recommended at this time
  • Should there be a food truck review board of some type? Wait one year and see if there is a need.
  • Should the temporary use applicability be extended to the CBD? Not recommended at this time because this other alternative is being proposed
  • Who will be enforcing this during non-Planning Department hours? Same entity during the day? Staff is working to resolve enforcement questions and will be meeting with the Public Safety Committee
  • Need/funding/justification for an economic impact study? There are not funds to conduct an economic impact study
  • Are bathrooms required for employees or patrons? The building code does not require bathrooms for either
  • For the downtown Central Business District, there may need to be a minimum amount of time vendors must operate to keep the permit ‘active’ since the total number of permits is proposed to be limited
Additional items of concern discussed by the Downtown Commission and included in their motion to approve:
    • Enforcement of specific regulations in the ordinance and also enforcement for vendors operating without permits (addressed through ordinance amendments proposed by APD)
    • There are questions about permit fees and whether fees would be enough to cover staff expenses for enforcement (fees for full cost recovery are not typical, particularly with zoning fees.  Need for additional fees may not be necessary with assistance from APD)
    • The ordinance will need to be reviewed after a period of time to see how it is working; this period may be about 12 months or after a full operational season, or at any point in time if a public safety/welfare issue is identified

** UPDATE — August 16, 2011 **

The regulation was reviewed by the Public Safety Committee. They were satisfied with the enforcement solutions and approved of the regulation with the addition that unpermitted vending will be considered a Class III criminal misdemeanor. Fines could amount to $500. Third violation could result in 3 months jail time.

About Tim Peck

Unaffiliated Objectivist
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