The city of Lebanon is considering two requests from food truck vendors for the creation of food pod zones within the city.
Lebanon currently allows individual food trucks to operate within commercial zones in the city as long as they obtain a permit and have permission from the property owner.
A food pod would bring multiple trucks together at one site.
Kelly Hart, the city's Community Development Director, discussed the issue during the city council session on Wednesday, Aug. 14, at the Santiam Travel Station. Hart said the city does not currently have any rules in place to govern how such a pod might operate.
Hart provided the council with information about a wide range of food truck pods from around the state. She said there are three levels of operation. At the most basic level, the food trucks are fully mobile and are regulated individually but there are no additional rules governing their operation in a group setting. No improvements are made to the surrounding area, seating is not provided and restrooms are not required.
At the mid-level, Hart said, the trucks remain fully mobile but some improvements are made to the site, including seating, and restrooms are available nearby.
At the premium level, the food pod becomes a permanent installation, with site improvements, seating, covered areas available for inclement weather, and restrooms on site.
Hart said it is up to the council to determine which model, or mix of models, it would like to follow.
Councilor Jason Bolen said he would be concerned if there were no regulations for pods, especially in the area of public health and safety. He believes rules need to be in place to regulate their utility use, trash handling and waste discharge.
"Personally, I think at least some sort of site improvement needs to be there, otherwise we're going to have dusty, muddy, dirty, gross - to me - areas for poor food sales," Bolen said. "To me, it's not conducive to what we want in the commercial zone."
Councilor Rebecca Grizzle said she would support rules to regulate public health and safety but she is not interested in regulating the aesthetics of the food pods. She believes that if owners want to make site improvements and offer covered seating, that is their decision to make and not the city's.
The currently proposed food pods would be located at the intersection of Park and Sherman and at the intersection of Third and Sherman.
Based on the council discussion, Hart will work with staff to develop a basic set of health and safety regulations for food pods and bring them back before the council for consideration.
The council also heard a request from the city's marijuana dispensaries to expand their operating hours. Jasper Burton spoke on behalf of the dispensaries and noted that the current ordinance requires dispensaries to close at 8 p.m. The dispensaries requested that this time be moved to 10 p.m.
Mayor Paul Aziz suggested that city staff review the request and bring a report back before the council for potential action. The council supported this request.
The council also gave final approval for refunding Samaritan Health Services the development fees it has paid for construction of the Samaritan Drug Addiction and Alcohol Treatment Center.
The council had discussed this issue at the June session and was told by former development director Walt Wendolowski that it was always the intention of the city to not charge these fees to Samaritan projects within the North Gateway Urban Renewal District. Waiving these fees is a way for the city to support the development of facilities that serve the interest of public health.
The reimbursement of these fees, which total $116,424, was unanimously approved.