Saturday, June 7, 2014

The food truck boom: Now comes the regulation

Posted By on Sat, Jun 7, 2014 at 7:36 AM

COMING OF AGE: The growth of the food truck industry in Little Rock has spawned new city regulations.
  • COMING OF AGE: The growth of the food truck industry in Little Rock has spawned new city regulations.

Noticed the explosion in food trucks in Little Rock? City Hall certainly has. It has developed new city rules to regulate the burgeoning industry.

Here's the staff writeup on a proposal to be placed before the City Board this week to regulate "mobile canteen units."

Here's the windup:

Mobile canteen units have experienced a marked rise in popularity around the country and in the City of Little Rock. Mobile canteen units are able to dispense a large variety of foods, healthy meal options and foods from diverse cultural backgrounds to all areas of the City, including underserved areas. As the industry expands, it produces jobs for operators; including entrepreneurial opportunities for small and minority-owned business operators. Popular mobile canteen units can attract foot traffic and encourage social interaction.

Staff feels it is necessary to update and clarify the regulations for operating mobile canteen units in the City.

Food trucks and wagons already are limited to certain zoning classifications. The proposal would broaden the places they could operate, but also set in law the definition of a mobile unit and refer to city regulations that could be changed as circumstances warrant. The Planning Commission has already recommended the proposal.

Here's the memo of rules for mobile food sellers, including push carts. I note that they prohibit setting up tables, chairs or canopies. I am familiar with a taco or truck or two that put a few plastic chairs outside.

The city says it received no negative feedback from vendors, or anyone else, over the proposal. The trucks have, at times, irked brick-and-mortar restaurant operators when they roll into their neighborhoods and compete for business.

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