<img height="1" width="1" style="display:none" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=192888919167017&amp;ev=PageView&amp;noscript=1">
Thursday, December 7, 2023
Dec. 7, 2023

Linkedin Pinterest

Living Hope Church wants Vancouver food cart owners to help pay $45K bill for traffic study

By , Columbian staff writer
3 Photos
Customers take a minute to decide their lunch order while visiting the food carts at Living Hope Church on Northeast Andresen Road.
Customers take a minute to decide their lunch order while visiting the food carts at Living Hope Church on Northeast Andresen Road. (Amanda Cowan/The Columbian) Photo Gallery

A land use permit that Living Hope Church did not acquire until months after its food cart pod was established came with an unexpected traffic study fee of $45,000. Now Living Hope wants food cart owners to help foot the bill.

The carts, located at 2711 N.E. Andresen Road, include Winston’s British Fish N Chips, Maya Fruits and Juice Bar, Krisey’s Kitchen, El Jefe and Backyard BBQ. They began to spring up around September 2022, and by March, all five had signed a lease agreement with the church.

But around five months ago, the owners of the carts discovered the church didn’t have the proper land use permits to allow food carts on the property. The city of Vancouver required a traffic study fee for the proper permits, and the church is attempting to pass those costs to the cart owners.

The owners of the food carts are frustrated, as they were not prepared to take on part of the fee, which doubles their rent to $3,000 a month, they said. With no promising resolution, the owner of Maya Fruits and Juice Bar said she plans to leave the lot at the end of the month; Winston’s British Fish N Chips and Krisey’s Kitchen are in the same predicament.

“We’re either going to all pitch in and pay them or we’re going to have to be forced to shut down because we cannot afford that fine,” said Timothy Johnson, co-owner of Winston’s British Fish N Chips.

Living Hope did not respond to The Columbian’s questions regarding the proposed rent increase.

In January, five months after the first food carts opened, Living Hope Church submitted its first land use permit for the carts, according to an email from the city of Vancouver. The permits require the applicant’s traffic engineer to conduct a traffic study to inform the city of new generated trips.

Ryan Lopossa, public works transportation division manager, wrote in an email to The Columbian that the study informed the city about the potential impact on local transportation.

In May, the city of Vancouver calculated that the food cart pod was projected to generate 333 new daily trips around Andresen Road. The traffic impact fee rate of $424 a trip, in addition to the 30 percent “business enhancement factor” and 15 percent “tax reduction factor,” yielded a bill of $84,009.24.

The land use permit for Living Hope was approved on May 17.

Living Hope Church was expected to pay the almost $85,000 fee, but in a meeting between Lead Pastor Doug Fraizer and Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, the city and the church agreed to recalculate, yielding a new fee of around $45,000.

“In this particular case, the church’s current concerns regarding the amount of applicable impact fees could have been avoided if they had reached out to the City’s Permit Center before the food cart pod was established to understand all requirements and fees, and taken steps to obtain approval,” wrote Chad Eiken, community development director for the city of Vancouver.

In 2011, local residents and church members originally bought the Living Hope property and building, which used to be a K-Mart. Madore Properties purchased Living Hope in 2016 for $4.7 million amid the church’s financial struggles.

Kristian “Krisey” Butler, owner of Krisey’s Kitchen, moved to Vancouver from New Orleans five years ago. Her food cart is a taste of classic Southern cuisine. Butler said she feels her concerns as a small business have been ignored by Living Hope and the city of Vancouver.

“This bill is for the church, not for the food carts,” said Butler. “I guess the decision is just to keep trying to push the money off on us or get out.”

Community Funded Journalism logo

This story was made possible by Community Funded Journalism, a project from The Columbian and the Local Media Foundation. Top donors include the Ed and Dollie Lynch Fund, Patricia, David and Jacob Nierenberg, Connie and Lee Kearney, Steve and Jan Oliva, The Cowlitz Tribal Foundation and the Mason E. Nolan Charitable Fund. The Columbian controls all content. For more information, visit columbian.com/cfj.

Support local journalism

Your tax-deductible donation to The Columbian’s Community Funded Journalism program will contribute to better local reporting on key issues, including homelessness, housing, transportation and the environment. Reporters will focus on narrative, investigative and data-driven storytelling.

Local journalism needs your help. It’s an essential part of a healthy community and a healthy democracy.

Community Funded Journalism logo