What is in this article?:
- Cities to show food trucks more love
- Balancing the use of public space
A new study defines the best practices municipal officials should follow when regulating food truck activity.
You know the food truck segment has achieved legitimacy when the National League of Cities counsels members that it’s time to stop hassling food truck operators and start treating them as the economic force they have become. That’s the upshot of “Food on Wheels: Mobile Food Vending Goes Mainstream,” a 32-page report designed to show municipal officials how they can incorporate food trucks into their city’s business community in a way that balances the interests of truck operators with those of the city’s residents and its existing restaurant businesses.
The nub of the issue, from the National League of Cities point of view:
“Mobile food vending generates approximately $650 million in revenue annually. The industry is projected to account for approximately $2.7 billion in food revenue over the next five years, but unfortunately, most cities are legally ill equipped to harness this expansion. Many city ordinances were written decades ago, with a different type of mobile food supplier in mind, like ice cream trucks, hot dog carts, sidewalk peddlers, and similar operators. Modern mobile vending is a substantial departure from the vending typically assumed in outdated local regulations.”
Amen, say food truck operators who have spent hours or days at City Hall trying to secure needed permits and licenses. So what does this report suggest cities do to get up to speed on food truck realities? The study analyzed mobile vending regulations from 13 U.S. cities. Here are a couple of the conclusions it reached.
Remove barriers to market entry.
Truck owners in many cities have to visit three to five departments to secure all necessary permits. The National League of Cities report suggests centralizing the permitting process within a single city department. “Making the permitting process more streamlined has positive impacts on both mobile vendors and city staff,” it concludes.
The cost of food truck permits was analyzed as well. Annual fees varied from $110 to $1,500 in the cities that were part of the study. The sweet spot: “Permit fees should be high enough to generate revenue that offsets at least some of the costs produced by the presence of food trucks, but not so high that they discourage potential business owners from entering the market.” Fees in the $600 range fit this profile in many of the cities that were part of the study.