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.
Balancing the use of public space
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Cities are all over the map when it comes to how long they allow food trucks to park on public roadways before having to move along. Brick-and-mortar restaurant owners, in particular, want to keep that time short.
Looking at all the competing factors, the National League of Cities report came up with this proposed guideline: “Time limits of four hours or longer are recommended. Vendors need approximately one hour to set-up and pack-up once they are done with selling. As a result, anything less than four hours leaves vendors with only one to two hours of actual vending time. Moreover, it is more difficult for city staff to track food trucks for safety or health purposes when they are in several locations throughout the day.”
That covers how long a food truck should be able to park in a particular spot. What about the actual location of those parking spots, particularly in relationship to existing brick-and-mortar restaurants?
“Proximity restrictions should be no more than 200 feet at the high end. Density issues may call for a tiered structure, or for abandoning proximity altogether. One of the problems with adopting an explicit distance rule is that a ‘one size fits all’ approach ignores context. Three hundred feet may make sense in less dense areas of a city, but such a distance is impractical in very dense neighborhoods. A city right- of-way, with multiple restaurants on both sides of the street where the distance between each side may be less than 300 feet, makes the area entirely off limits to mobile vending. As such, cities may want to loosen or abandon proximity rules in dense neighborhoods with a great deal of commercial and residential activity.”
Food truck operators will likely embrace these recommendations. If adopted, they will take some of the expense and much of the hassle out of starting and running a mobile food business. But if and when city officials put them into effect, owners of brick-and-mortar restaurants are going to wonder why food trucks are getting so much slack.
Many other facets of food truck regulation, including public health, public safety and the role of commissaries are addressed in this study.