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Council sets fees, food trucks can return

DEL MAR — Having already established the when, the where and the how food trucks can operate in Del Mar, council members set the how much at the April 6 meeting, approving a $350 charge for first-time applicants and a $175 annual renewal fee. 

The amounts represent full-cost recovery for staff time to process required operations permits.

When food trucks first rolled into town in October 2012, residents were all fired up about the Wednesday night gatherings in the private Seagrove parking lot on Coast Boulevard.

There were concerns about noise, traffic, smells, lighting, restroom availability and impacts to established restaurants, although state law precludes cities from banning the trucks because they may add competition to brick-and-mortar establishments.

Soon thereafter, City Council temporarily adopted interim urgency ordinances prohibiting the issuance of any new business licenses for the mobile vendors to allow staff to create regulations in Del Mar.

The new standards that regulate the time, place and manner of mobile vending operations were adopted April 15 and become effective May 15. All mobile food vending operators must obtain a mobile operations permit and city business license, but the fees weren’t set when the new laws were adopted.

To determine the appropriate fees, the Planning and Community Development Department estimated the amount of time staff will spend, on average, processing the four types of mobile food vending permits identified in the ordinance.

They are for operations on private property, such as the previous Wednesday night gatherings, in the public right of way, for nonprofit events or for private catering events with more than one truck.

Planning Director Kathy Garcia said she estimated it will take a little more than five hours to process each initial permit at varying staff rates.

Processing will include, at a minimum, the application completeness review, location site visits, verification of required information and operational standards, drafting approval documents and conditions, and administrative follow-up and document management, Garcia said.

“The calculations are based on the average staff time needed for each permit at full-cost recovery,” she said.

The fees don’t specifically apply to other mobile vending services, such as barbers, knife sharpening or retail sales, but they could if those categories are added in the future.

Nine food trucks were issued business licenses before the moratorium was adopted in November. The trucks haven’t returned to town since then.

Christian Murcia, who organized the gatherings, said he was approached by officials from Seagrove parking to create business in the underutilized lot during the offseason.

He said the Wednesday night gatherings weren’t very profitable for the operators.


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