Cedar Park open to food trailers after council OKs new mobile vendor rules

Updated 4:47 p.m. SCT Dec. 18, 2014

Editor's note: This story was updated from its original version to provide the correct title for city staffer Amy Link.

Food trailers could roll into Cedar Park after City Council on Nov. 20 approved two new regulations that define mobile food vendors and food trailer courts in the city.

Council members signed off on an ordinance that establishes a permitting process for food vendors in two categories.

The city's new ordinance defines semi-stationary food vendors, such as a food trailer in a business parking lot, and transient food vendors, such as a neighborhood ice cream truck or a hot dog stand near a business or construction site.

Previous city laws defined only transient vendors such as ice cream trucks and included 15-minute limits of roadside stops or vendors such as snow cone stands that had 30– to 60–day seasonal limits.

Another ordinance defines and regulates food trailer courts, allowing them as a new primary land use within non-residential zonings such as parks and retail.

Assistant Director of Development Services Amy Link said residents and business owners had asked the city to revise the laws and allow food trailers. City Council first discussed possible ordinances in July followed by first readings during the council's Nov. 6 meeting.

One interested business owner was Rick Redmond, who in May opened Lone Star Grille & Bubba's Backyard in Cedar Park. Redmond said before he opened the restaurant he was surprised to find the city had no food trailer ordinance, making it impossible to implement plans for a food court. Without additional food from outdoor mobile vendors, the restaurant has struggled to serve customers from an overtaxed kitchen, he said.

Redmond said he hopes to open a three-trailer Bubba's Backyard food court in March.

Food-trailer operators or transient vendors in Cedar Park must pay annual $100 fees to set up shop, the same fee required for existing city business permits. Vendors must also ensure they operate with a landowner's consent and do not take up parking required for the landowner's use or encroach into city landscape. Like restaurant owners, vendors must acquire Williamson County Health Department certification and city sales tax certificates.

Place 3 Councilman Lyle Grimes said he hopes the city conducts food vendor audits.

"I want to ensure that if [vendors are operating] in our city the taxes don't go back to Austin or some other city," Grimes said.


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