Multiple small businesses in Corvallis could be forced to shut down in the near future, at least that’s what local food trucks owners are saying will happen to them if new city regulations go through. The food trucks that are located at 461 SW Jefferson are in an unpaved gravel lot a few feet from the sidewalk, as required by law. The fact that the lot is unpaved means that the eateries are not handicap accessible.
“I have daily customers who are in wheelchairs, I have customers who use walkers,” said Dave Kell, owner of Kell’s Kitchen food truck.
Kell said that since the food carts are so close to the sidewalk, accessibility for individuals with disabilities hasn’t been an issue. Ward 2 City Councilor and mayor candidate Roen Hogg commented, “The Americans With Disabilities Act requires that the area with the food carts be accessible to people with disabilities. The City Manager is looking into whether this requirement means that the area needs to be paved or not.”
To meet handicap requirements, Corvallis’ City Council has suggested that property owner Hugh White would need to pave the lot and install electrical poles called stub-outs between every two food carts. These features would require costly investment.
According to Kell, the current electrical set-up is rigged to be run over by vehicles accessing the lot. He said finding another location would be difficult and that even if he did, it would also need installed stub-outs and would have to be located in the downtown area, between fourth and first streets.
“It’s sad, I want to stay here, it’s a good location for me,” said Kell.
White is pushing to postpone the council’s ruling until 2020, to give food trucks owners time to find a new location. As it stands, the improvements have to be made by January 1, or the trucks will have to move.
“Our profits are so minimal that the lower rent we can find, the better,” said Kell.
Currently the law states that if food trucks are not permanently placed within “Mobile Food Unit” clusters as the trucks are now, they can set up as a “Temporary Outdoor Market” which allows them to operate for 45 days or less per year.
If there is no postponement to the improvements that must be mad, owners fear for the worst. “There is no plan B. We’re just trying to make an income,” said Jeremy Cook from Memphis Beats.
“When I retired, I invested everything I had into this business. It’s going to be a huge problem if it comes down to not having a place to park,” said Kell. Kell summed up the impact that the proposed changes would have on his food truck: “If it does go through, I’ll be out of business.”
By Jonah Anderson