Umatilla may require free business licenses for craft, hobby and produce vendors who sell items within city limits.

The Umatilla City Council discussed regulating vendors on Tuesday because current practices violate city code. The code requires anyone selling items for profit must have a business license. Now, however, anyone overseeing a vendored event, such as a farmers market or flea market, purchases a business license for the event overall and then rents space to vendors.

Although no action was taken, City Manager Bob Ward offered council members two options to deal with hobby, craft and produce vendors:

• Exemption: The business license holder of the market in question polices all sub-vendors.

• No cost permit: Vendors must fill out a permit for file at City Hall but pay no fee.

Although the exemption option is easier for businesses and vendors, it does not allow city staff to review or track what products are sold.

“With the second option, we would know who they are, what products they’re selling, and we would have a record,” Ward said. “That’s the main difference between these two. Neither one costs the city anything.”

Vendors who purchase new products from wholesale distributors for resale do not qualify under either proposal and would require a business license.

The issue came to light through the new Saturday/Sunday market being run at 900 Sixth St. Graig and Lezlee Gunsolley, owners of G & J Dairy Freeze, have sold antiques during the market and questioned the need to pay a business license fee, in addition to booth fees from the market.

“There are a handful of experienced vendors in that little market, and none of them has ever heard of a city requiring the individual crafters to purchase a business license,” the Gunsolleys said in a letter. “While the City of Umatilla has always collected a Business License fee from businesses, it seems both excessive and uncooperative to require that each of these ‘hobbyists’ should be treated the same as a full time retail business.”

The weekend market is run by Doug Walker, of Rocking D, and Tim Fetterhoff, who spoke during the meeting as a market representative. Although Fetterhoff has no objections to having vendors obtain a free permit, he said he often does not know who will attend the market until the morning of, so having vendors obtain a permit in advance is difficult.

“We keep a file of every vendor that comes in,” Fetterhoff said. “We never know from one week or another who’s going to be there. They just show up between 8 and 9 on Saturday morning.”

The council and city staff agreed if the city chooses a permit option, documents could be available on scene and filled out at the location of the market.

“The ordinance isn’t specific to this enterprise. They keep a list, but others may not,” Ward said. “There’s no reason why we couldn’t have permits available at the venue.”

The council is expected to vote on a vendor ordinance during the next meeting, 7 p.m. April 3 at Umatilla City Hall.

In other business:

• New City Planner Bill Searles was introduced. Searles, from Baker City, began work in Umatilla last week.

• The council declared a copier as surplus property and supported donating it to the Umatilla School District.

• The council discussed, but took no action on, regulating vendor permits, mobile food vendors and motorized scooters.

• Council members and city staff discussed sending announcements about Landing Days and the Umatilla 150th Birthday Celebration to residents through water bills and school district announcements.

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