Jessica Cejnar / Wednesday, March 18 @ 6 p.m. / Community, Local Government
Mobile, Sidewalk Vending Ordinance A Go; City Council Discusses Small Cell Sites
Councilors on Monday approved an ordinance updating regulations governing mobile and sidewalk vendors.
The new ordinance puts Crescent City into compliance with California Senate Bill 946, the Safe Sidewalk Vending Act, according to Public Works Director Jon Olson, who participated in the meeting via Zoom. It also relaxes what mobile vendors can sell and how they are able to conduct their businesses, Olson told the City Council.
“One of the biggest changes is allowing mobile vending, as suggested in the current version of the ordinance, in residential districts — on city streets and on private property in residential districts through a use permit,” he said. “I could potentially set up a hot dog stand that was mobile in my side yard or backyard that would be subject to a use permit.”
In addition to allowing mobile vendors in residential areas with a use permit, the ordinance would allow them to operate within the city’s commercial zones, including its waterfront district, as well as its residential-professional district, Olson told the Council. Those business owners would check a box stating they are a mobile vendor and would have to comply with other regulations governing health and safety, he said.
“It’s intended to reduce barriers to gaining a permit,” Olson said. “The business license and the mobile vending permit would be transferable from one business owner to the next.”
Mobile vendors would not be allowed to operate drive-through sales unless there is an accessibility need for a patron, Olson said.
Signage and advertising would also be restricted to the business’s cart, vehicle or trailer to avoid visual impairments to pedestrians or motorists, he said.
Mobile vending areas in public parking lots would be limited to 400 square-feet, Olson said, though this requirement doesn’t apply to private parking lots. They will be allowed to operate from 7 a.m.-10 p.m. Near schools mobile vendors will not be allowed to operate before 4 p.m. on a weekday, he said.
For sidewalk vendors, the new ordinance also allows them to operate from 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Olson said. Both mobile and sidewalk vendors are required to stay 300 feet away from farmers markets and special events, he said.
The new ordinance also requires Crescent City to impose administrative versus criminal penalties on sidewalk vendors who violate the regulations, Crescent City Attorney Martha Rice said. The ordinance will set forth administrative fines and other penalties.
“State law requires, if somebody requests, the city has to make an ability to pay determination and give that person alternative options such as community service,” she said.
Rice also brought up a previous concern about mobile vendors operating near a “brick and mortar” store or a similar business. The regulation prohibiting mobile vendors from operating near a “substantially similar” business was too vague, she said.
“We would have to really sharpen the definition of what substantially similar meant,” she said. “The other key is in order to impose a distance requirement, we need to have, basically, a legitimate governmental concern that is advanced by that distancing measure.”
Any specific concerns can be addressed after the ordinance is implemented, Rice said.
According to Olson, one business owner has already filed an application for a mobile vending permit under the previous ordinance. They chose to wait until the new ordinance was adopted before finishing the process, he said.
“They’re really excited about that,” Olson said. “Dave and Suzie’s Grub Hut will be located in the CVS parking lot starting soon.”
In other matters, the City Council authorized City Manager Eric Wier to accept temporary construction easements allowing the city to go onto private property when conducting a public works project.
According to Wier, he would come to an agreement with the property owner enabling the city to do that work on their property.
The Council on April 6 will also bring back a first reading of an ordinance governing small wireless telecommunication sites.
Similar to an ordinance the Del Norte County Board of Supervisors approved last month, the city’s ordinance enables the Council to dictate what the wireless cell phone sites could look like.
According to Olson, if a telecommunications company wants to construct a site, the city has 60 days to approve a permit.
“Anything beyond that, they can install what they would like to install,” he said.
The proposed ordinance carriers a preference for small cell sites to be installed on streetlights rather than utility poles and buildings and to use the existing location and design whenever possible. The facility’s design should match the pole it will sit on, while the equipment should be underground whenever possible.
The proposed ordinance also requires 150 feet between each site and staff-level review for site permits.