The shave ice truck immediately drew large crowds, Ha said. She advertised the Stewart Park weekend location and posted items on social media to grow her customer base. Ha said she turned down several events because she wanted to focus on the growing business at Stewart Park. Ha said the parks department approved the permit allowing the truck to operate, but required her to have several million dollars more in insurance coverage than would typically be required of a food truck. Ha purchased the extra insurance and was given the electrical key to the park. But everything changed on May 26, when Ha received an email from Kris Ammerman, parks and recreation manager with the City of Roseburg. Ammerman wrote that city officials realized they had made a mistake in approving the shave ice truck at the park and that allowing a vendor there outside of a special event, such as Music on the Half Shell, is in violation of city zoning laws.
None of the councilors spoke on the matter. But considering the popularity of her shave ice — she was selling almost 500 dishes a day at Stewart Park during her four weekends there — and the groundswell of support she appears to have garnered, including more than 2,000 signatures on a petition asking that she be allowed to return to the park, it seems unlikely the dispute is going to die out anytime soon. Mayor Larry Rich said items not on the official city agenda are typically not discussed at council meetings. He also said the fact Ha has hired an attorney to represent her further limits the city council’s willingness to discuss her concerns.
“Our intention was for people to get a shave ice and take a walk and enjoy a visit to their local park. We believed that we were an asset to the park and received multiple comments about our shave ice truck being a perfect addition to the park,” Ha said prior to Monday’s meeting. Ha said she took city officials at their word when they told her she could sell her shave ice at the park all summer. She also said she didn’t want to get into a fight, but rather wanted to partner with the city and make the park a more enjoyable experience for everyone.
Ammerman wrote Ha back the same day, again apologizing for the mistake the city made: “My initial decision was made without all of the information. Once all of the information was presented to me, I realized I made a mistake and that I had to correct course. I consulted with city leadership and they confirmed that I had to rescind my decision to be in compliance. We cannot knowingly violate our own ordinances. I apologize again for the impact this will have on your business.” “Your email yesterday about the Park’s decision to not allow our business to operate in Stewart Park threw us for a loop, as our understanding was a continued operation throughout the summer. This change will have a tremendous impact on our business now that we are almost a month into operation on an already temporary schedule (summer),” she wrote. “I appreciate your apology for the oversight in allowance but this will impact our business greatly. My hope is that we can work together to come up with some alternative options or permits to be allowed at the park on the weekends.”
Ha wrote Ammerman back the next day. “In light of this new information, we will not be able to allow you to continue using Stewart Park as a business location unless you are part of a special event,” Ammerman wrote. “I apologize for this oversight. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to contact me directly.”
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