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City of Durango to allow long-term permits for food trucks

Mobile businesses were having to move every six months under a temporary permit
Costumers enjoy the food trucks at the 11th Street Station on Main Avenue. Durango City Council plans to change the city’s land-use and development code to allow independent food truck owners to file for long-term use permits in mixed-use and nonresidential zones. An ordinance will be presented at a later date to City Council.

Food truck vendors and restaurant owners scored a win this week when Durango City Council voted to approve revisions to the land-use development code that include an amendment to allow for long-term permits for food trucks.

In a 4-0 vote, City Council rubber-stamped a staff proposal to allow independent food truck owners to obtain permanent use permits, a noteworthy change from current city codes that limit food trucks to 180-day permits.

The 180-day permits meant food trucks could operate for six months in a certain location and then had to move, which was a major disrupter to fledgling businesses.

A formal ordinance outlining the permit and permitting process will be presented to City Council at a later date.

Mallory St. Pierre, city planner, said the city’s current permitting process allows for temporary permits (180 days) and accessory uses to another commercial or restaurant, like with the food trucks at 11th Street Station.

She said staff has heard more interest from people who want to operate independent food trucks but don’t have permanent options under the current land-use code.

Jenni Gross, owner of Soup Pallete and Lavender Chick, a catering business that makes use of her food truck’s kitchen, said City Council’s vote in support of long-term permits is a good move.

Jenni Gross, left, owner of Soup Pallete and Lavender Chick, along with her daughter Addie Gross, 16, accept an award from Anna Knowles, Durango Farmers Market manager, for the most local ingredient used in chili on Feb. 4 during the Shakespearean Smokin Snowdown Chili cook-off inside the Exhibit Building at the La Plata County Fairgrounds. (Durango Herald file)

She said packing up a food truck and moving to a new location every six months or so is an annoyance and hard on vendors, who must make sure their customers know where the food truck will end up next.

“I think it will be good and it’ll do the city good. There’s a lot of places that need great food,” she said. “And food trucks have great food. The reason they have good food is they go through it all in a day. They get new food everyday. You don’t have a giant walk-in freezer.”

Once a permanent permit is approved, the vendor is all set and does not have to renew the permit as long as they meet the conditions of their approval.

The permits are for mixed-use and nonresidential zones. City documents outline proposed standards for independent food trucks that include:

  • Land codes concerning commercial use of patios and outdoor dining areas applies to food trucks, with the exception that a special-use permit is not required.
  • Pedestrian access between food trucks can’t cross parking space.
  • Setback requirements are either 10 feet from the property line or the setbacks of a primary building on the property.
  • Permanent restrooms are required onsite for employees and customers alike and fire codes must be followed.
  • Bear- and wildlife-proof garbage cans must be provided onsite.

Other changes to the land-use code approved by City Council involved minor clarifications to existing requirements involving duplex standards; vehicle to bicycle parking space ratios under certain conditions; standards for garages and accessory structures; and other subjects.


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