Original food truck plaintiff says Metro Council amendment goes back on their word

Plaintiff: Metro food truck amendment goes back on its word

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - In some districts in Metro Louisville, parking is a hot commodity. A growing economy for traveling vendors means less available parking spots in some area of the city. Council members are responding in a way that food truck owners say is unfair.

One of the most concerning changes for business owners is the proposed restriction for any vehicle parked at meters to conduct business there.

The proposal is sponsored by council members Barbara Sexton Smith (D-District 4), Brandon Coan (D-District 8), Pat Mulvihill (D-District 10), and Scott Reed (R-District 16). Sexton Smith has taken the lead on the amendment and said the wording is not set in stone.

“There are restaurants that are closing down, and they say it is because of food trucks,” Troy King said.

King owns and operates a food truck and is one of the original plaintiffs in a lawsuit against the city. King claimed the city placed unconstitutional guidelines on food truck business. He said he believes the proposed changes stem from competitors.

“If your restaurant is closing down because of a food truck you were probably going to close down anyway,” King said.

A court ruled in favor King and other food truck owners. The city signed a consent decree that said it could not dictate where food trucks operate based on proximity to other restaurants.

King said operating a food truck presents obstacles, like working in a smaller space, using power from a generator, and finding a location to park. Working in the central business district, that space is usually at a meter spot.

Many food trucks operate in downtown Louisville around lunchtime, parking near businesses to serve those who work nearby.
Many food trucks operate in downtown Louisville around lunchtime, parking near businesses to serve those who work nearby. (WAVE 3 News)

“We are paying the meters, this is no different than if a car parked there,” King said.

Representatives for the food truck owners said the amendment puts food trucks at a disadvantage. Sponsors of the ordinance said they intend to create specific zones for the trucks to do business, like restaurants following zoning guidelines.

“This is absolutely not an attack on anyone or any industry or any operation,” Sexton Smith said.

Sexton Smith said she wants to see the business of traveling vendors grow. According to the Louisville Food Truck Association, there are 73 licensed vendors in Louisville.

Another concern presented by members of the association is that they would have to move every 10 minutes. The amendment creates specific definitions for different traveling vendors.

Sexton Smith said food trucks would not fall under the specific vendor who would be required to move periodically.

“There is no intention what so ever to rush this,” Sexton Smith said. “We are not on a certain timeline or deadline.”

Louisville Food Truck Association's legal representatives said the proposal alone goes against the agreement.

After a first reading, the amendment will sit in the Public Works Committee for discussion. During this time Sexton Smith said an online portal is being made to submit feedback.

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