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McCleary restaurant owners push to prohibit food trucks

The city of McCleary is considering prohibiting or licensing potential mobile food trucks that may want to locate within city limits.

Absent any kind of regulations, a food truck owner could just pull into downtown McCleary and open up business so long as they have the appropriate license, set up in the right zoning district and meet health regulations. A vendor recently contacted McCleary City Hall to find out the options for bringing a food truck to town.

Subway owner Pauline Martin and other restaurant owners are pushing city c ouncil members to prohibit food trucks altogether, except for special events such as the annual Bear Festival.

“If you can prohibit the sale of marijuana, which is legal, why can’t you prohibit any mobile food units?” Martin told the council on Feb. 12.

“There’s a difference between smoking pot and selling a sandwich,” City Attorney Dan Glenn said.

That said, Glenn advised the council he would look at the different options available, including potentially prohibiting food trucks.

“I didn’t want you to get hit cold with this when one opens across the street because it’s zoned for it,” Glenn said.

Martin, the president of the McCleary Chamber of Commerce, says she’s not against a new restaurant opening up in town. But she says there’s a big difference between a business that pays taxes, utilities and generally helps the economy of the city and someone who just pulls up to set up shop and steal business from the regular businesses.

“I’m concerned that we’re losing businesses, but we’re trying to bring in someone from the outside, instead of building up the businesses that are here, that pay taxes, utilities, support the community service in McCleary and employ people here in Grays Harbor, where we have one of the highest unemployment rates in the state,” Martin told City Council members. “We spend our money here. I shop at Gordon’s because I want to support the local businesses. I use the library here, even though I pass two libraries on my way home. Why? Because I want to support business in McCleary. I know we all feel the same way. We support each other. We’re Chamber members, we do community service and we look out for each other. This is another thing we need to keep an eye on … because we don’t want any more empty storefronts.”

McCleary City Councilman Jeff Catterlin says he would support a prohibition on food trucks, except for Bear Festival.

“It would be completely wrong to allow this kind of activity to bleed revenue away from our current food businesses,” Catterlin said, adding that besides the three restaurants, the city’s gas stations and grocery store would also be impacted.

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