City staff members have been working on the changes to the code for more than a year. The new ordinance does a number of things, including redefining the types of vendors, creating standards those operators are expected to abide by and creating new vendor categories for sidewalk and street vendors.
In addition to those changes, the new ordinance also allows businesses with the appropriate license to operate year-round, a problem that Steven Lucarelli and Carrie Finn, owners of the Quesadilla Mobilla food truck, had encountered with the previous code. Last year, city regulations only allowed the food truck to operate for six months of the calendar year.
Finn said that if the ordinance had failed the couple would have been forced to leave Moab.
“We just can’t afford to sit for six months,” she said.
After council members approved the changes, they also approved a license extension for the Quesadilla Mobilla, which will allow Finn and Lucarelli to stay open through the end of November.
Moab City Planner Jeff Reinhart noted that one of the biggest changes will be the fact that vendors will no longer obtain a permit to operate. Instead, they will be required to obtain a business license.
“In the past, the individual or business getting a moved-on structure permit would also get a transient merchant business license,” Moab City Manager Donna Metzler said. “Now all those fees are just lumped together.”
Businesses that have used these types of permits in the past may see an increase in their fees as a result, city officials said.
“We determined that most of the costs associated with administering these licenses happens up front,” Metzler said. “It’s the same regardless of the duration, so we have basically a flat administrative fee of $600.”
In the past, Metzler said, the fee was $378.75. Metzler said the new administrative fee will apply to every vendor, regardless of the duration of the permit.
Vendors that plan to be in place for less than 30 days will pay an additional $10 after the cost of the administrative fee, Metzler said. Long-term vendors will pay the initial fee, plus another $30 per month for the duration of the business.
“We tried to make it commensurate with the amount of time they’re there while understanding that the initial costs of reviewing the application, going to city council, looking at the site plan ... requires a lot of staff hours,” Metzler said.
Finn said she and Lucarelli feel the increase in fees was justified, especially if it means that they would be able to operate longer throughout the year.
“We don’t pay any property tax,” she said. “The city has to get their money somehow.”
Local business owners who have already paid for a business license would not be required to pay the administrative fee according to Metzler.
“They’ve already paid their administrative cost,” she said.
Metzler acknowledged that the city is hoping to create some incentives for vendors to stay in town for a longer period instead of coming in for just a weekend before heading out again.
“We’re trying to encourage people who are serious about business to come to town,” she said. “This does provide a disincentive for someone just coming in for a couple days.”
Vendors associated with a larger event that has already obtained the appropriate permits would not be required to get their own permit, Metzler said.
“This will probably be a work in progress,” city council member Gregg Stucki said. “We covered a lot of things. We’ve had to tweak things in the past. Hopefully, this will be better.”
Metzler said the city will notify past vendors of the changes so they will know what steps they must take to comply with the new regulations.