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Jyl Benson and Sam Hanna
Pelicans v. Pistons
Food Truck Roundup
Reform Ordinance Revised, Trucks Plan to Roll on CBD
The food truck movement is rolling closer to reform.
The office of Councilmember at Large Stacy Head has released a modified version of ordinance discussed earlier this month. Head reworked the food-truck-friendly legislation after receiving criticism from restaurants and other concerned citizens. On Friday, advocates of four-wheeled fare will test drive the new regulations at a food truck roundup at a place where they were once forbidden.
At a February 5 City Council committee meeting, issues were raised of food trucks’ proximity to nearby restaurants, as well as quality of life issues for residents in areas served by mobile grub. The ordinance opens up a law that has not been revised since 1956, and it significantly expands the market for potential food truck vendors. If passed, permits for mobile restos would increase from 100 -200.
The ordinance will still open up parts of the Biomedical District, the Treme, and the CBD as fair game for food truck fare. However, the revision includes the areas between Poydras St. and Howard Ave. in the no-food-truck zone.
Many resto owners argue that four-wheeled eateries have unfair business advantages. Mobile food vendors are not required to pay property taxes, and they are not subjected to the same kind of strict health evaluations as their stationary peers. However, the new law will require all vendors to pay an initial fee of $805.25 and an annual $755.25 to operate.
Most food truckers are okay with the new fees. If passed, the law would increase the time they’ll be allowed to operate in one spot from 45 minutes to four hours. Originally, Head’s office proposed that food trucks would have to set up at least 50 feet away from nearby restaurants. After groups such as the Louisiana Restaurant Association complained that mobile fare would impact brick and mortar businesses, Head modified the distance to 100 ft.
Section 4 ( c ) of the new ordinance says, “…it shall be unlawful for any peddler or vendor of food to cook, prepare, sell, or vend any food or merchandise from any location where there is a restaurant open for operation within 100 feet of the vendor.”
Nearby restaurants can determine whether or not to waive this restriction. The new ordinance will likely go up for a vote within the next two weeks.
Barrie Schwartz is the Founding Director of My House, an organization leading the charge for food trucks and organizing Friday’s roundup.
Schwartz said food trucks and restaurants can help each other.
“As long as there’s communication and discussion, food trucks can coexist with restaurants,” Schwartz went on. “This Friday is a perfect example of that. I work directly with the owner of Merchant. We’re having Brigade coffee come out,” she said.
This Friday’s event will be the first of its kind to happen downtown, and trucks Brigade Coffee, NOLA Girl Food, Empanada Intifada, Rue Chow, and Frencheeze will meet at 800 Common Street from 11am-3pm.
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