Though the city of Dinuba has yet to adopt an ordinance to deal with the new state law permitting sidewalk vendors, the city council has a clearer picture of how the law is being addressed at the County level.

A work session prior to Tuesday's regular scheduled city council meeting featured Carlo Alvarez of the Tulare County Health Department. But before Alvarez could address council and staff, city planner consultant Karl Schoettler answered a few questions that had previously been brought up by the council.

Under the law, the city ordinance could allow for restrictions on hours of operation for sidewalk vendors, so long as they are reasonable for their location. Some foods may be cooked, or prepared on food carts, but with limitations. Food carts would also need to be stored at an approved commissary. And the city could, through the proposed ordinance, prohibit sidewalk vendors from setting up at city parks and city events.

"Most cities are not thrilled about this," said Schoettler. He later added that there has already been interest from people wanting to move forward with sidewalk carts and are asking what steps to take.

"The sooner we have an ordinance the better," he added.

Alvarez provided the council with County regulations regarding food vendors. He stressed that the County only allows for limited food preparation and that no chopping or cooking of food is allowed on sidewalk carts, adding that bacon wrapped hotdogs are not allowed.

As for bathroom requirements, such food vendors would be required to provide a restroom verification form - signed off by a business owner with a restroom at least 200 feet from the vendor.

Another concern brought up by the city council is whether or not the new law would allow for taco trucks within city limits, something currently prohibited by city code. City staff was confident, however, that the law only pertains to sidewalk vendors, thereby excluding taco trucks.

Phone vendors, such as those who advertise free phones, would be allowed through the new law - so long as they follow the guidelines. Those guidelines would require them to acquire a business permit, and their carts (or tables) would have to fall within the size limitations. E-Z ups would not be allowed.

One concern brought up by Dinuba Chamber of Commerce President Sandy Sills and GAC Chair Reda Bennani was the city's ability to enforce those who might be found in violation. To the relief of many present, it was explained that after repeated violations, and fines, a vendor's permit to operate could be pulled.

The city ordinance on sidewalk vendors will be brought back to the city council at a later regular meeting. When it does, it will be brought back as a public hearing.

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