Planning Commission approves changes that would allow food trucks in South Lake Tahoe |

Planning Commission approves changes that would allow food trucks in South Lake Tahoe

The city hosted a two-session Mobile Vending Workshop Thursday, Aug. 2, and about 20 people showed up at each discussion.
Bill Rozak / Tahoe Daily Tribune

South Lake Tahoe is one step closer to allowing food trucks and other mobile vendors in the city.

With zero opposition, the Planning Commission on Thursday, Dec. 13, unanimously agreed to send changes to the city’s mobile vending code to City Council for final approval.

After months of public discussions, it seemed nearly everybody was in agreement with the new regulations, which should open the door to mobile vendors. The existing code doesn’t allow for a long-term operating license for parking and selling food around the city, even on private property.

“We have been involved all along contributing to the data gathering process,” said Steve Teshara, CEO of the Lake Tahoe South Shore Chamber of Commerce. “I think what you have before you is an excellent, slow conservative approach, but we’ll learn from this. I think we can all support this going forward.”

Nicole Smith, co-owner of South Lake Brewing Company, commended city staff for compromising with the community.

“I’m excited that the distance regulation was modified and find it reasonable,” Smith said. “It allows us to apply for a permit without seeking permission from property owners or neighboring restaurants.”

The new code would require mobile vendors: have a permit and a mobile vending operator license; pass a background check, drug screening and a Department of Motor Vehicles record check; and hired drivers must have an operator’s license.

Prospective vendors must make an application for an owner’s permit to the police chief, who will then issue a permit after holding a public hearing.

Those operating a vending vehicle also must apply with the police chief, and liability insurance will be required. They must post their operating license.

The new code also establishes a pilot program for one year from the time of adoption.

The pilot program:

Allows six permitted private property locations.

Sets a maximum of three vendor spots per location.

Vendors are only permitted on property containing an existing commercial land use.

Vendors are only permitted where “eating and drinking places” is allowable by zoning.

Requires the location to comply with parking standards for the existing uses on site.

Allows vending from 7 a.m. to 2 a.m., with a six-hour maximum within 24 hours in one spot.

Require waste management.

Requires vendors be responsible for site and vehicle maintenance.

Prohibits additional signs other than vehicle.

Prohibits amplified music, honking, yelling, or other sound used for attracting attention when operating on private property.

Requires vendors be on a paved surface.

Prohibits vendors from parking in parking spaces for on-site users.

Prohibits additional customer seating.

Vendors cannot impede vehicles or pedestrians.

Requires lighting for night operations that cannot spill onto other properties.

Requires private property location to provide access to bathrooms during mobile operations.

A permit can be revoked after three citations.

“I think with current regulation of what’s being proposed, we’re good to move forward and we’re not going to have an invasion of mobile food vending in South Lake Tahoe,” Smith said. “It’s a great compromise and good first step.”

Clarification: This article was corrected to say that the new pilot program allows six permitted private property locations. Also, the phrase “employees should be neatly dressed and groomed” was removed — it is in the current city code but was removed in the planning commission recommendation.

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