By Pepper Fisher
SEQUIM – Caleb Messinger, owner of the Southern Nibble food truck you may have seen around the Sequim and Port Angeles area, appears to be leading a one-man charge to get the City of Sequim to amend its codes to allow food trucks to set up shop more broadly in the downtown business district.
The downtown corridor is divided in two sections separated by Fifth Street. There are no food trucks allowed east of Fifth to Brown Road. West of Fifth, Messinger says the rules make it impossible to make a living.
“If you’re in the City of Sequim you cannot operate your food truck from 5th Street to Brown Street, which is a very big section. And that’s actually where most of the customer base would be for lunch and everything else like that. That’s one issue. The biggest issue I’m having with the code is a time restraint and what it is, is, I’ve got a four-hour window to operate. Even if I’m in the green zone in the city, I’ve only got four hours to operate. And then I gotta go home and I can’t return for 48 hours. I mean, no business in this world makes it in four hours.”
Messinger has gotten the attention of the City Council. At their January 23 meeting during the Open Council Discussion, the majority of Council indicated that they would like the Planning Commission to review Sequim Municipal Code Chapter 18.65 (Mobile Food Service Vendor)for a potential update.
The current code was adopted in 2012 in a split decision by the Council. At the time, one councilmember wondered aloud if letting a food truck park 12 hours a day, 7 days a week in the business core is fair to brick and mortar restaurants. Another said it was a matter of equity, to have food truck owners not paying impact fees like other restaurants.
And it’s no secret that some restaurant owners just do not want the competition from mobile vendors.
The City Planning Commission discussed the subject at their February 7 meeting. Messinger says opinions were mixed.
“A couple of the Planning Commission members are kind of apprehensive about even changing it. They’re talking about, “Well, we just got all these new restaurants downtown, and we finally have a vibrant scene downtown”. Food trucks don’t take away from any businesses. Any study that we’ve presented, the study has actually drove up local businesses another 27%, So, people like food trucks. They’re a tourist attraction.”
The Planning Commission decided to hold a public comment period during their next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, March 7.
“Hopefully, we can get a good bit of people down there to fill that room. And I would love to hear from people that oppose it, and that are for it. You know, I’ve heard enough from people that are for it. I would love to hear why people are against it.”