Locals Discuss Possibility of New Mobile Grocery Ordinance in Hollister – SanBenito.com

The ongoing fight for a mobile grocery scene in Hollister continues as more than 30 people attended an informal meeting to discuss a new regulation that is in the works that will allow vendors to sell groceries across the city.

A good cross-section of both established stationary restaurant owners and mobile sellers who limited themselves to the search for a stationary home expressed their opinion on Monday evening in the town hall.

Hollister Mayor Mia Casey and executive directors of the Hollister Downtown Association were also in attendance.

“We wanted to hear all sides,” said Christy Hopper, director of development services for the City of Hollister. “Last night was, I would say, a very successful meeting.”

Over the past year, Hollister City Council has received public comments, mostly from mobile grocery vendors, wishing the city would ease restrictions.

The current regulation allows limited locations for mobile food vendors, such as the industrial areas north of the intersection of McCloskey and San Felipe Roads and north of the intersection of Fallon and San Felipe Roads, and Hollister Municipal Airport.

Hopper said vendors are also only allowed to park for 10 minutes at a time. She mentioned that several people were operating in the city but were not doing so legally.

The Hollister City Council heard what the public had to say and directed employees to draft a mobile grocery ordinance to set out the regulations.

Hopper is familiar with the process, having worked for the City of Monterey to develop their mobile food ordinance, which provides for different types of permits.

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Permissions depend on what type of food is served, when they operate, and their options for where they wish to operate.

The ordinance provides for three types of permits, starting with a short-term permit, which allows one hour parking per block and four hours of no return to the same block. Vendors would be permitted to locate anywhere in the city, with some restrictions for health and safety reasons, as well as some residential area restrictions.

The second permit would be valid for four hours and would serve what Hopper calls the city’s “underserved areas” that lack brick-and-mortar restaurants. She said it will be similar to the current regulation, which requires mobile vending in general business parks, industries and airports.

A third option is a permit to operate a vacant private property, such as a parking lot, under an agreement with the property owner and within business hours or a proposed alternate schedule.

“It’s about what you can do with an agreement in the public right of way and on private developed land,” she said.

Questions raised during the meeting included how many vendors can be in one location and the possibility of converting vacant private lot into what Hopper called a mobile food truck space.

The idea of ​​a food court requires more thought as there are requirements such as restroom facilities and an improved parking lot.

“This is something that the city will hopefully be tackling in the near future,” Hopper said. “This is a wish that is very much in line with the mobile food vendors in particular. They like to travel in packs.”

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Hopper said the brick-and-mortar community is all for having food trucks in the city, but their main concern is the competitive aspect.

Hopper assured that they would address these concerns at the next City Council meeting on June 5. She also mentioned that prosecutor Mary Lerner will investigate whether it is legal for the city to possibly enact regulations about parking in front of a restaurant.

“[Restaurant owners] support the mobile operators because they believe they are mutually beneficial,” she said. “But [they] I have of course voiced his concerns about the competition because you are putting money into a brick and mortar restaurant and not a food truck.”

Hopper’s goal, as head of development services and a former planner, is always to achieve as much consensus as possible.

“It’s imperative to make sure the message gets out to a wide range of people,” she said.

Hopper served in the City of Monterey Planning Department from 2008-2016 and was part of the team that prepared the new ordinance.

Since leaving Monterey, they’ve updated the ordinance a few times because of the need to make adjustments.

Hopper hopes Hollister City Council will take this into account.

“We’re going to roll that out and figure out what works and what doesn’t,” she said. “And then we can always go back and change the regulation.”