Quesadilla Mobilla owner Carrie Finn hands a fresh quesadilla to customer Mike Hornak who is visiting Moab from Hamden, Conn. The City of Moab adopted a new mobile vendor license process that has steeper fees and stronger requirements to operate to discourage short-term vendors. [Photo by Kristin Mills / Moab Sun News]

The City of Moab approved their first vendor license to a mobile vendor, Quesadilla Mobilla, at their Tuesday, Sept. 10 meeting.

“You do a wonderful job and you’re an asset to Moab,” said councilman Gregg Stucki upon granting the license to Quesadilla Mobilla owners Steven Lucarelli and Carrie Finn.

Earlier in the meeting, the council passed an ordinance that repealed and replaced the permitting process for mobile vendors.

“This is historic. These are no longer permits. These are business licenses,” said councilwoman Kirstin Peterson after the council voted unanimously to pass the new ordinance.

The new license would allow Quesadilla Mobilla to be open year-round instead of being limited to a seven-month season as was allowed under the former permitting process. Last year, Lucarelli and Finn had to close their food truck in mid-October, during one of the peaks of Moab’s tourist season, because of the seven-month limit. Lucarelli and Finn opted for a nine-month term in their request at the council meeting.

The new ordinance also dramatically increased the fee to operate a mobile vendor business to discourage short-term mobile vendors from setting up shop during busy weeks.

“We were a little concerned that our long-term vendors would think this is a little steep. We want to encourage people who are serious about business to come to town,” said city manager Donna Metzler during a discussion regarding the proposed ordinance at the council’s Tuesday, Aug. 27 workshop. “If you want to come in for only a weekend, or two weekends, the cost is steep.”

The one-time flat fee is now $600. In addition, there is a long-term license fee of $10 per month and a solid waste/ food vendor fee for another $10 per month.

“The food surcharge is intended to cover the costs of customers using the recycling bins on the streets.” Metzler said.

The city began working on a new set of rules regarding mobile vendors two years ago. The new ordinance was created to resolve issues relating to mobile vendors, such as establishing standards for restrooms, waste, parking and noise. It also now requires food service health inspection with the application.

During the Aug. 27 workshop, Peterson reflected on how the new ordinance may affect short-term vendors.

“In the past, we probably had more less-than-a-month type vendors,” Peterson said. “It will be interesting to see if they want to continue to do business here or not.”

Metzler said that she expects few mobile vendor licenses to be issued.

“There’s only a couple of long-term vendors,” she said during the workshop. She cited Quesadilla Mobilla and Tropical Sno as established businesses she expected to apply for the new license. “Most are here one year and gone the next.”

Josh and Jill Reeder have been operating the Tropical Sno stand in Moab for the last six seasons. They employed up to 10 part-time employees from May through August in Moab, then returned north to attend school at Utah Valley University in Orem.

“Now that we’re done with college we’ll be here April through September,” Josh Reeder said.

Reeder said that expects to pay about $400 more a year to the city under the new ordinance.

“I think there could be an option for shorter term vendors, but I’m not bothered by it,” he said. “It makes sense that it is the same across the board for everybody. I don’t mind paying a few extra hundred bucks.”

He recognized that brick and mortar businesses have had issue with mobile vendors.

“We can take advantage of the short season and be gone,” he said.

He said that the new ordinance makes it a more level playing field for brick and mortar businesses and mobile vendors by requiring the same type of documentation and fees to operate.

“The new permitting proves we are all held to the same standards,” Reeder said. “There are inspections now.”

Councilman Jeff Davis expressed satisfaction with the work that was done on the ordinance during the council’s Aug. 27 workshop.

“These fees are appropriate,” said councilman Jeff Davis “I think you guys did an excellent job on this.”