Changes might be on the menu for Louisville’s food trucks

Some council members proposing revisions to city ordinance
(Source: WAVE 3 News)
Updated: Oct. 10, 2018 at 5:56 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Four Metro Council members are re-visiting the city ordinance governing Louisville’s mobile vendors, but a group representing local food trucks says the proposed changes go against a recent settlement.

Council members Barbara Sexton-Smith and Brandon Coan have written an amendment to various ordinances that affect the vendors. The ordinances haven’t been updated in some time, and the council members said they’re trying to take a pro-active approach to its food truck laws.

“We have an obligation to look at our changing economy and our changing life and tweak the laws that we have,” said Coan, woh represents the city’s 8th District.

The current ordinances allow food trucks to reserve parking spots along downtown streets, at parking meters, in advance. The proposed revision introduces the idea of designated areas for mobile vendors, including food trucks.

“We wanted to take a very close look, which we have done, on how our parking meters are used and to whom are the benefiting the most,” Sexton-Smith said.

Council members will read the revised amendment at Thursday’s City Council meeting. It will then go before the Public Works Committee for further discussion. Sexton-Smith said they are looking for feedback.

“Most people can’t drop $100,000 or $200,000 on brick-and-mortar buildings, but with a food truck you can spend maybe $30,000 or $40,000 to get started,” said Eli Mudd, a food truck manager.

Mudd works at Osaka Snack Bar, the owner of which recently began mobile vending. Mudd said the food truck opened opportunity and presented challenges at the same time.

“As long as there is a meter, we can park there, but there are also lots of private-property areas that we aren’t allowed to park at,” he said.

In June, a federal court ruling reversed an ordinance that banned the trucks from setting up shop within 150 feet of restaurants that offered similar menus.

According to the Institute for Justice, which has represented local food vendors in the past, the amendment goes against a settlement the city signed in June. The amendment was recently made public, and the council members are seeking feedback. Mudd said any hindrance to growth would be a shame.

“If you look at other major cities, they have a booming food truck business,” Mudd said.

Parking designations aren’t the only changes mobile vendors might face. Safety issues such as where food trucks can locate their generators and gas tanks also are part of the proposed revision.

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