Steamboat could see more food trucks in city parks under new policy |

Steamboat could see more food trucks in city parks under new policy

New policy would allow food trucks in 6 locations in 5 parks

John F. Russell

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Imagine taking a barbecue break from your bike ride on the Yampa River Core Trail or grabbing a sandwich at a baseball game without leaving Emerald Park.

Food truck operators regularly inquire about serving customers in Steamboat Springs’ city parks, but thus far, the rules around mobile food vendors have changed year to year. The most recent policy allowed one mobile food vendor to operate in city parks each summer.

Now, the Parks and Recreation Commission is working with the department to establish a policy that would allow more vendors to set up shop.

“We want to have a policy because we are so frequently asked if people can sell in the park,” said Parks and Recreation Office Coordinator Ally MacDougall.

Over the past seven years, the process to sell food in parks has changed three times.

“We can make it more equitable and formalized,” said Parks and Recreation Director Angela Cosby. “In past years, when there have been multiple vendors, there’s been need to have a little bit of parameters and control as far as where you can set up and from what hours and what days.”

Cosby said this framework can help parks, users and businesses be successful.

A proposed policy went before the Parks and Recreation Commission this month.

Under this policy, mobile food vendors, including food trucks, bike carts and wagons, would be allowed to operate in designated spaces within five city parks: River Creek Park, Emerald Park, Ski Town Park, Rich Weiss Park and Little Toots Park. Each vendor would be required to pay a $250 fee for an annual permit in addition to the city sales tax and Routt County health license.

These vendors would only be allowed to park in designated spots. Whichever vendor gets there first would have the place for the day. In River Creek Park, two parking spots would be open to vendors. One spot in Emerald and Ski Town parks could be open to food trucks, and both Little Toots and Rich Weiss parks would only allow one bike vendor at a time.

These vendors would be allowed to operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. from Memorial Day Weekend until Halloween, Oct. 31.

Food trucks would not be allowed during certain events when organizers have their own food and beverage contracts, including the Steamboat Mountain Soccer Tournament and the Cowpie Classic Rugby Tournament.

The Parks and Recreation Commission directed staff to select certain parking spots for these vendors to operate within parks to minimize impacts for traffic and from the possible lines of people waiting for food. MacDougall also was directed to add a condition that would allow the city to revoke a mobile food vendor license should an operator break the rules.

“If (the public) has any input or feedback on it, now is a great time to hear it while we’re revamping this policy,” Cosby said.

She said the best way to comment is by emailing Cosby at or MacDougall at

Cosby said this policy change will be made by the department, with input from the Parks and Recreation Commission. It will go before the commission in another meeting, likely in November or December, she said.

“I would like to have it wrapped up before the end of winter,” she said. “That way, if entrepreneurs and vendors are interested in doing that in the summer of 2020, they’ll have an opportunity to prepare their business.”

Previous policies regulating food trucks in parks changed from year to year, according to a memo included in the Parks and Recreation Commission documents.

In 2012, three vendors were allowed to operate in parks with a percentage of their revenue donated to local nonprofits. In 2014, three vendors were allowed to operate in any park besides Howelsen Hill for a $75 fee. From 2015 to 2018, the city issued requests for proposals, granting one vendor the bid to operate each summer.

Food truck operators who aim to sell food and beverages in other parts of the city are permitted through the Steamboat Springs Planning and Community Development Department. Under city code, they are usually required to operate on private property.

To reach Eleanor Hasenbeck, call 970-871-4210, email or follow her on Twitter @elHasenbeck.

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