Veritable City Hall Food Fight Ends in a 3-2 Vote to Subsidize Carnegie Park Food Truck Plan

Downtown Redding’s troubled Carnegie Park will become home to a food truck court under terms of a concession agreement approved Tuesday by a sharply divided City Council.

A pair of 3-2 votes, with the first failing to delay the issue for a couple of weeks and the second approving the plan proposed by former Liberty Christian High School basketball coach Todd Franklin, followed two hours of testimony and debate.

Todd Franklin outlines his food truck court plan for Carnegie Park. Photos by Jon Lewis.

Todd Franklin outlines his food truck court plan for Carnegie Park. Photos by Jon Lewis.

Council members Julie Winter and Kristen Schreder found themselves on the losing ends of both votes while Mayor Brent Weaver and council members Francie Sullivan and Adam McElvain joined forces to green-light the agreement.

Councilwoman Julie Winter listens to testimony.

Councilwoman Julie Winter listens to testimony.

The agreement means Franklin can begin transforming Carnegie Park into a gated area that will be home to three to seven food trucks. It will be open most days from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Franklin will pay a monthly rent of $850 and will be responsible for trash removal, landscape maintenance and providing portable bathrooms. To be called “The Park,” it will open June 1.

"The Park" is scheduled to open June 1.

“The Park” is scheduled to open June 1.

A bustling, family-friendly environment will draw more people to downtown and force transients and loiterers—many of whom have taken to using the park as a bathroom and heroin den—out of the area, Franklin said. The renewed interest in downtown and the extra foot traffic will benefit other businesses as well, he said.

Schreder said she wasn’t opposed to the plan, but she said there were too many unanswered questions—especially for a project that amounted to turning over a public park to a private entity that will be competing with downtown businesses.

Several of those business owners addressed the council on Tuesday and the majority said they liked the idea but not the location. Tina Carletta, a co-owner of Final Draft, a brewpub that just opened adjacent to the park, said she would not have signed a five-year lease and invested $500,000 into her business if she knew a city-subsidized food court was going to open outside her back patio.

Bill Shehan, whose daughter, Dayna Speers, and her husband, Brett, are opening a second Wilda’s Grill in the Cascade Square building, said he would not have invested in his daughter’s business if he had been made aware of Franklin’s project. Shehan said they’ll be paying three times the rent of Franklin, plus labor and other fixed costs.

Three to seven food trucks will be in the park daily.

Three to seven food trucks will be in the park daily.

“How can I compete with subsidized housing?” Shehan asked.

Other restaurateurs warned of inadequate parking, safety concerns over the Union Pacific railroad tracks that border Carnegie Park and the prospect of homeless drifters staying in the area. “This family-oriented idea is a joke,” said Marshall Glashan, the new owner of Café Paradisio.

Others, however, described the food truck court as a ray of light and an example of outside-the-box thinking that could transform a blighted eyesore into a vibrant centerpiece of downtown.

“Don’t let the darkness creep in,” said Lynn Fortenberry, adding that she has seen firsthand how food trucks can pump life back into struggling downtowns. Shannon Hicks said he supports his friend Franklin’s idea and noted that Redding police received more than 600 calls for service from Carnegie Park last year while two businesses left the Lorenz Hotel building. “The park has become a black eye and a no-go zone,” Hicks said.

Suzanne Russell, owner of the Carousel boutique on Yuba Street, said she supported the project and felt it could help put Redding on the road to becoming a destination not unlike Bend, Ore., or San Diego.

Jake Mangas, executive director of the Redding Chamber of Commerce, said his organization supports the project and believes it will benefit all downtown businesses. At the moment, he said, an unsightly chain-link fence surrounding the park “shows people where they can’t go, but soon, new gates from Gerlinger Steel will show you where you can go.”

In her motion to approve the project, Councilwoman Sullivan said she wanted to implore Franklin to initiate conversations with business owners surrounding the park and do what he can to alleviate their concerns.

Schreder said those conversations should have started long before the issue came before the council for a vote. “We owe it to the community to get it right,” she said in a last-gasp effort to continue the debate to a meeting in April.

“We don’t have all the answers,” agreed Weaver, while adding that time is of the essence if any semblance of a park is to be saved. “My school of thought is that this will help the brick-and-mortar restaurants. A parking problem is a great problem: it means there is excitement.”

In other action Tuesday, the council:

Policy Body Cameras

–Voted 5-0 to delay the implementation of a six-month pilot program for police body cameras and free up the $250,000 that had been set aside for the camera program. The money is in the city’s federal asset seizure account and will now be available for more pressing public safety issues.

The council voted in 2014 to authorize Police Chief Rob Paoletti to use the asset seizure money to purchase the cameras and data storage computers. Implementation of the program has been pending negotiations with the union representing police officers.

Council members said the body cameras were important, and are bound to be put in use eventually, but given the current budget constraints, spending the $250,000 “is not the best use of our resources,” Sullivan said.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.
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35 Responses

  1. Randall R Smith says:

    Agenda for change seems to be moving forward although divided and slim.  If the new idea does not fly economically, does not mitigate a blighted area in the very heart of downtown, then what has been lost to the public is only time and conversation. However, if business can fix this nightmare place, then like the Sundial Bridge, in two years you won’t be able to find anyone who opposed Franklin’s idea.

    BTW, there is precedent for using parks to support enterprise: Tiger field has a semi-pro ball team, Aquatic park is used by groups and individuals when the public is not capable of use, likewise, our trail system is taken over multiple times during the year for events sponsored by groups and businesses. Business use of Civic Auditorium saved and restored the place.  Turtle Bay sits on a public lease.  So too does Riverland Farms.  Present use of Carnegie Park is as deplorable as the new venture is hopeful.  Thank you Council for granting a chance at improvement.

  2. Dick says:

    Where are these “high end food trucks” coming from?

  3. I look forward to visiting the park and area businesses after the drugged loiterers have moved out. The area is beautiful but with the undesirables gathered there (as it is now) it’s scathe.
    Could the real problem be the high use of drugs? If the loiterers are displaced, where are they going to gather next?
    As a visitor and frequent shopper in Redding, I have seen the loitering panhandler problem grow. There is obviously a big drug problem.

  4. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I’ve had a few lunches and dinners at Portland’s Rose City Food Park—an amazing variety of food trucks. Even late in the evening, it attracts enough people to achieve a “critical mass” where there are enough people ordering food, eating, and just hanging out such that the junkies (Portland has them, too) tend to shy away.  The biggest threat to the businesses of downtown Redding isn’t competition. It’s the threat of downtown becoming a place that nobody wants to go in the evenings. We are backsliding in that direction.The food truck court, with enough good dining options, stands a chance of drawing enough people to the park to dissuade the junkies from hanging out there. It’s a step in the direction of making downtown more attractive overall.

    • Shannon Hicks says:

      Well said Steve. We’ve found even 4 or 6 of us in the park was enough to displace most criminal activity, albeit for an hour. Now imagine dozens of citizens. Looking forward to changes

  5. kerr, david says:

    I would like to see a food truck selling authentic Mexican food, like the stands you see in Mexico.   I was a repeat customer of the one in Red Bluff..

    In Mexico, southern AZ and CA, there are many stands, food trucks and restaurants which serve authentic Mexican food.  Portion sizes are reasonable, not the “portion distortion” you see in Americanized restaurants.  Unfamiliar offerings like birria make it an adventure.  In some neighborhoods in Phoenix, ladies go door too door selling tamales, burritos and tacos.  Similar vendedores ambulantes do a thriving business on the playas,  Phoenix Park ‘n Swap, and in or at the entrances of RV parks.  I once watched a grandmother with grandchild in tow for about ten minutes.  She was selling about $200/hr made with about $10 of ingredients.

    Fresh made churros are a treat.  One man had a propane roaster for Chiles Colorado.  The peppers were on a cylindrical  hand cranked rack.  The car has a wonderful smell when you bring home a bag of them.  Juice stands where you watch the fruit being squeezed.  Watching tacos being made.

     

  6. Beverly Stafford says:

    My husband was stationed in Japan and still raves about the soba carts by the train station.  The Food Network has a program featuring food trucks in various cities.  It’s amazing to see these wonderful creations turned out from a tiny space.  Roquito’s has a food truck, and sometime back, there was a hamburger truck – named something like Follus Around Town.  Cinders and Brusciante have/had wood fired pizza oven trailers.  Burrito Bandito started out as a taco truck in Burney and now has something like four restaurant locations around Redding.  Perhaps having a permanent, safe location downtown would inspire other entrepreneurs to get on board.

  7. Tom O'Mara says:

    Hoping with many others that this will be a positive change for downtown.

  8. Chuck Prudhomme Chuck Prudhomme says:

    I am baffled how city leaders complicate such matters! Replace the grass with decorative gravel and cactus as they have done in many cities in Arizona. These parks are aesthetically pleasing, drought tolerant and easy to maintain. Furthermore transients would be much less inclined to camp on gravel and cactus especially in July!

  9. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    I’m afraid I have to side with the restaurateurs. I don’t think it’s fair that a restaurant owner establishes an eatery with a fixed location, at great personal expense, only to be undercut by a fleet of food trucks, subsidized in this case by the local government. This isn’t Portland or even Sacramento. Food trucks in Caldwell Park will take business away from downtown restaurants across the bridge. There’s not going to be some huge surge where everybody wins.

    Neither do I see food trucks forcing the heroin junkies to another location, without diverting law enforcement to that area and away from other areas. The junkies hang out by the public restrooms next to the bridge embankment, away from the asphalt area, down in the brush by the river. Who’s gonna run em out? Where will they go next?

    I see a lot of wishful thinking here. But hey, we all gotta dream.

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      I understand your reasoning; however, available food-truck fare wouldn’t deter me from patronizing a nearby  sit-down restaurant.  Seems a bit like apples and oranges:  a grab’n’go snack from a food truck or a leisurely lunch or dinner at one of downtown’s eateries.  By the way, I’m really looking forward to going to Final Draft.  That brings up the thought:  does having more brew pubs take away business from the other ones any more than food trucks would take away business for permanent restaurants?

    • name says:

      Caldwell Park?   That is not where the proposed food truck court will be located…

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      R.V. — It’s wishful thinking, indeed.  And you’re right—this isn’t Portland or Sacramento. My notion of obtaining “critical mass” where enough people are visiting downtown in the evenings that it floats the boats of every downtown business higher—because downtown is the cool place to be—may be a pipe dream.

      One thing’s for sure: Downtown Redding is in back-sliding mode. Here’s just a few examples of what that means from my perspective: (1) I’ve not yet been to the new brewpub downtown—the one whose owner is concerned that food trucks will siphon off business. Three years ago, I’d have been there on opening night. Today, my ambivalence toward downtown is enough that I just haven’t bothered to make the trip. (2) That ambivalence is turning to aversion.  I’m moving my business, which has been located downtown for about 7 years. Two vehicle break-ins in downtown parking lots in the last four months (among other issues) is enough.

      I don’t think more people downtown is going to force heroin junkies out, but I do think they’ll disperse to some degree. And to the degree they don’t, they’ll be less noticeable if there are enough regular folks out and about. You walk past a lot of down and out people on the streets of SF and Berkeley, but they’re not the modal people strolling the sidewalks. Redding isn’t the only town with heroin shamblers, but they’re not the majority on the downtown streets in other places.

      Or where they are, the downtowns are like ghost towns in the evenings.

      • R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

        Well, now that I realize I’ve got the location wrong, I think it’s even more unfair to the restaurants.

        But … the idea that it might drive up the junkies seems a little more plausible.

  10. kerr, david says:

    foodtrucksin.com is a starting place to research food trucks and trailers in many cities.  There are quite a few listings in Chico, Redding’s number one competition.

    I enjoy reading chicoer.com and the Chico coverage on KRCR.  Good things ahead for Butte county.

  11. Valerie Ing says:

    As a former restaurant operator, as a banner waving champion of revitalizing downtown Redding, and as someone who lives and works downtown and gets an eyeful every day from growing congregations of homeless, drug addicted and mentally ill, I can see both sides of this issue and want to commend both Franklin & Kraffert for taking a solution oriented approach rather than simply complaining. I was thrilled to see someone propose something new that might help congregate – lets call them the aimful, instead of the aimless. I have great concerns about the city giving an unfair advantage to food truck operators. I worry that this plan won’t deter the aimless from congregating in that spot, but instead will only increase their access to steal and panhandle from others. I also have concerns – as someone who has attempted to secure food trucks for special events in Redding – that some of the food truck operations that have been in Redding have been unreliable, so its my hope that Mr. Franklin has better success than others have had in luring food trucks to the park. He’s got a few months. And I can’t wait for the return of Wilda’s and the opening of Final Draft!!!

    • Beverly Stafford says:

      I was surprised that there were no food trucks at the recent home show.  There was a beer and wine booth on the stage, but I saw only chips as food offerings.  There was a kettle corn booth outside, but no other food.  Perhaps just a weekend isn’t worth the effort for food truck owners whereas a more permanent location might be.  We probably would have stayed longer if snacks had been available, but by afternoon, we were hungry and left.

      I hope Wilda’s return to downtown is as successful as the location on Churn Creek.  The place is always crowded.  I must admit, however, that my last Buddha Bowl wasn’t up to snuff and was disappointing.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        Beverly — If you ever make it out to Palo Cedro, try a Fire Bowl at Fresh Fire Grill.  They even have a raw ahi option in addition to chicken, beef, and pork.

        • Beverly Stafford says:

          I gotta get out more!  I didn’t know about Fresh Fire Grill, but I’ll definitely make a run to Palo Cedro next time I’m in Redding.  Thanks, Steve.

    • Richard Christoph says:

      Valerie,

       

      Final Draft is now open. We had lunch there yesterday and found that the four currently available beers, the food, the ambiance, and the service were all superb. Do check it out.

  12. Carter Slade says:

    Kind of odd council thinking..  The existing businesses apparently aren’t attracting enough folks to the down town area so let’s bring in food trucks that will hurt the existing businesses with mobile competition that the existing businesses, in the long run, cant really compete with. I would think the eventuality would be that the brick n mortars will leave,  leaving the food trucks to the spoils and lending a somewhat carnie look to the scene.  At that point, what has been gained…? oh Redding, oh Redding…

    • Common Sense says:

      Carter Slade…..Odd Council Thinking?…..There is very little “Critical” thinking going on down there…..These are the same folks that will more than Likely vote NO to the Millions of Dollars of Tax Revenues from Prop 64 passing….cause it doesn’t fit into the box…….you know….not in my backyard thing…….Some Good Critical Thinking might be along the Line….so what’s in the Communities best Interest?……instead of….my “Personal or Religious Beliefs” don’t like this……Would it benefit the community? Yes or No?….Would the Tax money benefit the City? Yes or no?……..as far as the competition thing…..It’s a Capitalist Society we live in…..how is this any different than another gas station going in down the street from the two that have been there for 30 years?…..Times change…Business owners have to adapt to the changes…..provide the Consumers what they want at a price they want…..or go out of Business……

      • Carter Slade says:

        Hey CS, I was just trying to be politically nice… I guess it could be worse. It  could be me who ends up having a bagel truck parked next my Bagel shop and watching Weaver go from each established store to each mobile truck looking for the best food deal…

  13. Russell K. Hunt says:

    I don’t see this lasting very long. But City Manager Kim Neimer will get her 12 ft. fence. Positively, I think it’s time to sell South City Park,Park Marina Riverfront Park and the other ballfields around the Civic Center as they are dead zones most of the time. They are worth alot commercially and will easily pay for the re-establishment of the facilities to safer areas. And the mission needs to be moved out of downtown if things are to recover. Suggested site: Metz Rd. First start with sheds for the homeless at that site under a non-profit.

  14. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    I would like to make it clear that the fact that I got the park location wrong has totally changed my vote on this issue. It made absolutely no sense if Caldwell Park was the park, but now that I see we’re talking about Carnegie Park, I totally get it. I know for a fact that it will INCREASE traffic to that new brewery because most of that food truck food is incredibly salty and they don’t serve ALCOHOL. Also, by packing in people with money, it just might push the downtown hoodlums off … toward who knows where?

    • Carter Slade says:

      LOL RV…Did you ever have yourself checked out for a concussion?  Say, I wonder if the taco truck, located next to the grow store down on 273 will make it to ” Carnegie Park- the bigs of food truckdom”…?

  15. Lori V says:

    Kudos to the three forward-thinking members of the city council who opted not to sit on their hands and await numerous studies and feedback ad nauseum, but act on a viable offer to address a downtown area of blight that has long been unavailable for residents to gather therein and enjoy. I see it as a win-win for all downtown stakeholders and wish this venture nothing but success.

  16. Frank Treadway says:

    Sorry RV, but The Park operator, Mr. Franklin, is having a beer and wine garden in Carnegie Park, about 30 feet from the Final Draft patio and entrance. Now if that isn’t a slap in the face to these new entrepreneurs who have spent a boatload of money fixing up the former Maritime, then I don’t what is…especially coming from a supposed ‘nice guy’, who many lauded because of his coaching abilities. Not to mention he says the food trucks will be asked to serve the food on real plates and silverware, are the food trucks equipped with dishwashers, check that out health dept. And 2 more weeks could have simply put the local owners and the The Park folks in real touch with one another and solved many of the concerned comments made at the council meeting. Now, there’s animosity between the two groups and the only way it will be resolved is if one, or more, of the businesses fail, and that’s the last thing we all want.  And what’s going to happen in Carnegie Park during the Winter months, that was not addressed, is the Park going to be locked up so we can’t even stroll through it, will the transients be allowed to return, say what ?  Many of us have bricks with out family names on them, are they going to be paved over ?  Mr. Franklin, you’re displacing about 50+ transients/vagrants/AB109ers,  what are you going to do to help them find a place to land ?  Is it going to be the nearby neighborhood’s/homeowners of West Redding ? You need to address that serious problem if you are truly concerned about downtown.

    • Rod says:

      Well done Frank.  The city will technically be promoting fermented alcohol consumption on site.  Distilled alcohol won’t be available.  There’s gotta be a crime in that.  Can that activity be insured?  Can the city cover it’s butt?  It smacks of cronyism where families are projected to be drawn into the incidental “mud and the blood and the beer”.

    • Barbara Braun says:

      Again, great comments Frank.  I, too, wonder what will happen to the bricks.  If they are being removed, I”d like mine.  I’m not happy about this plan, I feel sorry for the business owners.  Thanks.

  17. cheyenne says:

    A lot of other cities are mentioned here so I ill mention Cheyenne.  At the downtown Depot Square the weekend events bring many people to downtown Cheyenne.  Weather allows these events to be held from early May, to end of September.  Food trucks, as well as beer gardens, encircle the Square and instead of competing with the surrounding restaurants they bring more people to downtown who do go to those neighboring businesses.  There is live music with all these events.  In the winter there is a portable ice rink, started this past year, and a New Years ball drop.  One thing, touched briefly by some posters here, is Cheyenne has a physical police presence during these events, not just because of the homeless but some home residents get too drunk.  Invigorating any down town requires a safety factor to make people safe, that means an official police presence and not somebody with just a security T-shirt on.  And this is true in Denver’s downtown too as well as the rest of the front range.

  18. Beverly Stafford says:

    In thinking about a renewed Carnegie Park, I wondered if the Thursday evening Farmer Market might return to downtown, but that was such a hassle because of street closures.  I know it was a Viva Downtown project, but it would seem that having a Thursday fest where the Saturday market is held, on the Civic Center grounds, might be a good venue.  It’s near the cop shop for security, has good parking, no street closures would be necessary, the area between the main building and the meeting rooms could serve as a stage for music.  It wouldn’t be downtown, but it would be Redding.

  19. Don Cohen says:

    I don’t understand why Kraffert’s  offer was not given more consideration. I don’t know enough  about it to judge, but he seems like a much stronger tenant to me.

  20. name says:

    They should have music, to attract the people who would then buy food/drink.  The music in the park in CV is very successful, and people buy food there (even though the food is low quality).

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