Molalla settles on temporary fee for food carts
One of the lingering questions about food carts coming to Molalla got an answer at the March 24 City Council meeting.
How much should a food cart locating in Molalla pay in terms of system development charges? By a 4-3 vote, the council adopted Resolution 2021-10, establishing a temporary transportation system development charge fee for mobile food units.
City Manager Dan Huff said there was a lengthy list of percentages and their corresponding amounts the city council had at its disposal, and that after lengthy discussion, the council chose an amount and voted it in.
The current full fee is $13,016, but the number the council OK'd at the meeting is a temporary fee of $6,508.
"Food carts have been allowed in Molalla since the beginning of the year when we finished the land use component," Huff said. "The issue was really what are we going to charge them."
That component has, at least temporarily, been decided. Molalla currently has one longtime food cart in town, as well as a second that has recently dropped into a local business.
The process has been a lengthy one. Molalla, like many communities, didn't have any regulations as food cart prospects started inquiring about space.
"So, we adopted some new regulations around the first of the year to deal with the land use component for food carts," Huff explained. "Somewhat simultaneously, the City Council chose in November to roll back some of our SDCs to the 2019 numbers. They kind of gave themselves a deadline of June 30 to recalculate the capital improvement plan and make things fit together.
"It's a somewhat normal occurrence that when you create new language for something you didn't have before, you find that some of the language you adopt wasn't quite what you thought," Huff added. "That happened with the land use language, so we were trying to clean up that component. That, combined with the numbers for a new food cart brought the questions, what should the SDC be?"
At issue with food carts is that it's tough to compare city-to-city because each city is different. Cities are unique to themselves, said Huff, "so if you start comparing city-t-city in terms of what they do in this situation, you really have to be careful."
With the city in a temporary phase of its SDC analysis, perhaps 50 percent through it, the decision was made to hone in on a temporary fee that those looking to place a food cart in Molalla find easily identifiable.
"So we came back at the last meeting with a temporary designation for if you want to bring a food cart to town, you'll pay a SDC of this much."
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