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Flea market approved to expand operations
• Food vendor truck park OK’d
El Rematito Flea Market
An aerial photo shows the layout of the the El Rematito Flea Market on Crows Landing Road, Ceres. A food vendor truck park will be situated at the southeast portion of the flea market site.

The Ceres Planning Commission last week gave its blessings to a request of the Quetzal Corporation to expand the operations of the El Rematito Flea Market to operate four days per week on Crows Landing Road and operate a food vendor truck park.

El Rematito has operated Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays for many years before the site was annexed to the city in June 2012. The commission reviewed the request to amend the Conditional Use Permit that allows the market to operate Thursdays through Sundays as well as operate a food vendor truck park Mondays through Thursdays. The trucks will be parks at the southeast portion of the flea market site, located at 3025 to 3113 Crows Landing Road. City Manager Tom Westbrook said that Sunday sees the most activity at the flea market and that Thursday will likely see the lightest amount of crowds.

Both the county and city have worked with El Rematito to address a shortfall in parking for customers. Improvements to parking – which included a primary collector roadway, a traffic signal at Crows Landing Road, and 765 more parking stalls at the northern end – were completed late last year. The parking lot can now accommodate 1,493 vehicles.

The flea market operates Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 5:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is allowed to have up to 548 vendor spaces (155 enclosed spaces and 393 open air spaces). The owners estimate that the flea market attracts about 30 food vendor trucks at the southeast corner parking lot area and within designated spaces within the flea market. The owners asked the city for permission to allow up to 54 food trucks/trailers. Unsure about the potential impacts of having that many vendors at one time, Senior Planner James Michael suggested a maximum of 20 food trucks for a 180-day trial period to “determine if there are any negative impacts to the area.”

“From a business perspective,” said Westbrook, “they don’t really know how many trucks they can get, how successful it’ll be, so they’re taking a little bit of a risk to try to get this going and see if it’s something that will be popular in the community.”

At the end of the six months the city plans to review to see if there were any problems before allowing the amount of trucks to go up to 30.

The operation would be permitted to have designated seating areas as illustrated on the site plan. If after the trial period is complete staff determines that no complaints have been received about the operation, then staff shall have the discretion of permitting up to a maximum of 30 food truck operators for the truck park.

Rick Mummert of Benchmark Engineering addressed the commission and said the Quetzal Corporation made a substantial investment for the traffic signal and road improvements. He asked that the hours of the food truck operation be expanded from dawn to dusk. “We think that 6 p.m. is a little early for people getting off work to be able to come to this,” he said. “We want it to thrive coming out of the gate. We really don’t want it to fizzle out.”

Westbrook said city staff had no problem with allowing the trucks to operate until it gets dark.

Each vendor will be required to maintain a city business license and a health permit through the county Department of Environmental Resources.

Beer and wine (alcohol) sales will not be permitted, and vendors will not be permitted to play music and other related audio devices.

Vehicular access to the flea market and food truck park operations will be provided via access points from the proposed Pedro Marquez Avenue to the north, Crows Landing Road to the east, and Hackett Road to the south.

The city has reported no major incidences of problems at the flea market, Westbrook confirmed.