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Medford food truck scene on a roll

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Medford’s late-night food truck scene is about to offer a bigger smorgasbord of dining options in the downtown area.

Medford City Council last Thursday decided to allow permits for food trucks on downtown streets from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m.

“It’s going to be huge for downtown Medford,” said Stephanie Card, owner of Heart and Bowl at Bartlett Street next to Pear Blossom Park.

Card and other food truck owners are particularly happy with a new city regulation that will allow them to park their vehicles for up to five days in the same location. The food trucks previously were required to move off the properties each night.

“That saved me two hours a day,” Card said. “This is a huge change for a lot of food truck owners.”

Card, whose dog, Jackson, died a few days ago, was particularly busy Tuesday when she donated $3 from every bowl plus tips to the Southern Oregon Humane Society. Heart and Bowl, which offers Mediterranean, Mexican and Asian-inspired fare, is in a parking lot with several other food trucks at Fourth and Bartlett, one of several areas in the downtown where food trucks are located.

Under the new regulations, which take effect Nov. 1, the city has created three different types of permits for food trucks.

For years, food truck owners have requested they be allowed to park on city streets to serve the bar crowd. A new type of permit would allow a vehicle to be parked from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. on downtown streets that include Main, Sixth, Eighth, Bartlett, Front, Evergreen and Riverside.

Vendors are required to provide garbage cans, comply with noise standards and cannot place chairs, tables or signs on the adjacent sidewalk.

A second permit, known as “daily pods,” would apply to existing food trucks that already have received a permit from the city, allowing them to park for up to five days in the same location on private property.

A third type of permit would require a land-use process to allow utilities to be hooked up to the vehicle, creating a more permanent location.

In drafting the ordinance, the city looked to other downtowns in the state that have developed lively food truck spaces.

Card said the food truck court she’s located on might be interested in pursuing a permit that would allow it to have a more permanent utility hookup, making it possible to remain on the property indefinitely.

Card said there are probably more than 30 food trucks permitted in Medford, but she said she’s heard of about 12 other people thinking of opening new food trucks.

Councilor Tim D’Alessandro, who voted for the ordinance, said he thought the new rules would expand food truck options in the downtown while protecting the interest of the brick-and-mortar restaurants.

“With the hours laid out, it evens the playing field,” he said.

If for some reason there’s a potential conflict between food trucks and restaurants, he said the ordinance could be changed in the future.

D’Alessandro said food trucks are popular for many because groups of people can go out together and have different food options to pick from.

“It’s a place you can go and have choices,” D’Alessandro said. “One person can go to one truck and one can go to another food truck.”

D’Alessandro, who often frequents the downtown food trucks, said, “All in all, I think it’s a good thing.”

Reach reporter Damian Mann at 541-776-4476 or dmann@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on www.twitter.com/reporterdm.

Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune Stephanie Card prepares lunches at Heart and Bowl Food Trailer in downtown Medford Wednesday.
Heart and Bowl Food Trailer in downtown Medford.