LONG BEACH — The Rides at Long Beach isn’t getting a free ride on the city, at least not anymore.
The City Council approved a permit earlier this month that allowed the for-profit amusement park free use of a public space to expand its carnival-style attractions.
Owners Russell Maize and Chris Summerer got the go-ahead to put two of six new rides in the parking lot east of their downtown business. But now, Long Beach leaders want them to pay. Freebies aren’t allowed by state law.
City Administrator David Glasson asked an attorney to check into rules that ban giving away public resources. After listening to legal advice on Tuesday, he decided to suggest the council ask the business to pay $100 a month to rent the space.
He said Maize and Summerer seem agreeable. They’re already taking deliveries, including the first new arrival, a gentle rollercoaster called the “Wacky Worm.”
“We’re talking about an investment of hundreds of thousands of dollars” Summerer said. “This is going to be a really big draw for Long Beach.”
He and Maize hope the city supports the park expansion. They want to open the new rides quickly enough to pick up business from tourists who are disappointed to find the go-carts were shut down.
The rides that are to be kept on the city lot are expected to up two to three dozen parking spots. The new attractions include a Sidewinder, a Roll-O-Plane, Spinning Apples, a 28-foot tower drop, flying F80s for kids and a 100-foot Super Slide. The businessmen are bringing the bumper cars back, too.
Food truck debate
Maize and Summerer also helped convince the city to consider changing its rules to allow food trucks. They want to add to the park’s county fair-like feel by selling carnival fare out of a trailer.
Adrift Hotel owner Tiffany Turner also has an idea to bring the food-truck trend to town.
She wants to turn a vintage 1960s Airstream into a coffeeshop that offers organic espresso, fresh juices and popsicles. Turner sees it as way to put a spin on the local food movement and give guests a hip place to purchase beverages on the beachfront hotel’s property.
“Food trucks are a thing in the Pacific Northwest,” she told the council during its June 5 workshop meeting. “It’s worth thinking about how this could be done in a way that doesn’t hamstring other businesses.”
However, others want to keep food trucks out of Long Beach. Sweet Phee’s owner Sandy Millsap worries that allowing them would make it harder for downtown businesses like her yogurt shop to survive.
“The mobile businesses just want to be here in prime time to capture customers of the year-round, paying brick-and-mortar businesses,” Hungry Harbor Grille owners Dennis and Lois Roberts wrote in a letter to the council.
City considers standards
The city can’t make regulations aimed at preventing competition to protect certain businesses, Glasson said. However, Long Beach can set standards. He and his staff are looking into ways to allow food trucks without changing the small-town beachy feel.
One way is to approve only those that are part of an existing business, Glasson said. The city could also restrict the number of food trucks or limit them to certain areas.
Mayor Jerry Phillips said it’s important to weigh the consequences before making changes. He’d like the city to put standards in place to keep out roadside vendors like ones that “look terrible” in Seaview.
The council agreed to consider the change further after city staff finishes researching the options.
“You gotta look at the whole picture,” Phillips said. “The bottom line is what’s good for the community?”