Food trucks: Now welcome in Susanville

The city of Susanville has officially declared, those who are in compliance and receive the proper paperwork can bring their food trucks to Susanville’s streets.

Imagine it. The smell of freshly made, finger-licking food wafting through the city air. Street corners bustling with eager and hungry folks who, too, caught the whiff of a sizzling surprise. Salivating pedestrians hastily re-routing themselves toward the temporary tempting treasure; a similar sight at the Lassen County Fair, but not one seen on city streets. And processions of turn-signals from vehicles; a beacon, beckoning for you to do the same.

Much like Reno’s “Feed the Camel” summer food truck events, or the business districts and outside of bars in some cities, Susanville is now open for food truck businesses.

The city council discussed the subject of food trucks at its April 17 meeting, with talks stemming from confusion based around the issue. It was originally brought to the council’s attention by one of its council members Brian Moore at a prior meeting.

To the findings of the city staff, its administrator, Mike Wilson, and the professional interpretation by new planner Marlin Johnson, mobile vendors are absolutely allowed in pretty much all zoning districts, other than residential, with the approved use permit.

Trucks must first obtain an insignia approved by the California State Department of Housing and Community Development. Thereafter, trucks are inspected by the County Health Department. Interested parties must also have an approved commissary in addition to other requirements. Interested parties must also obtain approval for a use permit from the city’s planning commission.

Staff determined that existing food trucks that participate in other venues are likely compliant with county and state rules and could easily provide their service to the city.

City administrator Mike Wilson spelled out some of the findings. “Existing food trucks that would participate in Redding, Chico and Reno are likely to be compliant based on the fact that they’re doing these events at other jurisdictions where their counties, and other counties within the state of California, would be doing the inspections and meet the state requirements. The only challenge with Reno may be if they happen to be specific to Nevada. They may not be meeting California requirements, but would be required to do so.”

Wilson detailed the staff’s extensive research into the history of the issue, sharing insight from minutes from a Sept. 2011 Planning Commission meeting concerning an ice cream truck and the lengthy discussions that went on about the code and what the city wanted, both with clarifying the code and supporting businesses.

One of the city’s staff was a former writer for the newspaper during the time of the ice cream truck issue, giving the administrator and the staff more understanding of the issue at the time. Wilson told the council that the prior article “led people to believe that the ordinance itself was prohibiting” the authorization of food trucks within the city.