City Council postpones vote on stricter food truck regulations

Cody Moore

UPDATE:

The second reading of the new mobile vendors ordinance has been postponed until November 15. The city council said they are open to more discussion and possible tweaks to the proposed ordinances.

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ORIGINAL:

Next Tuesday, City Council will vote to decide whether or not a new regulation will be implemented to prevent mobile vendors, like food trucks, from staying in one location for longer than three or more times per week.

The regulations are intended to make sure that these mobile eateries remain on the move; trucks would be prohibited from operating more than three times per week at the same site, with vending limited to 10 hours per day at a single site. Food trucks and other mobile vendors would also be prohibited from remaining at their vending site over night. 

For example, Equinox Brewing in Old Town, a frequent host of a rotating cast of food trucks, would only be allowed to have a food truck on site three days per week. Their lot would have to sit vacant the remaining four days. 

The new code would allow for private property owners to make a special appeal to allow a vendor to operate for more than the three day maximum at that location. This exemption could cost property owners upwards of $350.

A mandatory distance between restaurants and food trucks will also be determined by the vote.

The purpose of these new ordinances appears to be twofold: to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants, and to keep food trucks and trailers from becoming stationary businesses without following proper code, which differs between restaurants and mobile vendors.

City Council unanimously approved the first reading of the new regulations during their meeting on June 21, although council members Ray Martinez and Gino Campana were absent. Martinez is not in favor of the new restrictions.  

The Umami food truck at last Tuesday's Food Truck Rally event in City Park. Photo by Cody Moore
The Umami food truck at last Tuesday’s Food Truck Rally event in City Park. Photo by Cody Moore

“I asked that this not be put on consent and open for more discussion,” said Martinez, the District 2 councilman.

These proposed restrictions come after the city conducted surveys about food trucks and current regulations.

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According to the surveys, 86.8 percent of the more than 800 people surveyed said that they supported mobile food trucks operating on private property on a semi-permanent basis. The FoCo Food Truck Alliance calls the proposed policy by the city council a, “gross misrepresentation of desire and will of the community.”

Food trucks are also already highly regulated by the city and county in which they operate. In Fort Collins, vendors need at least six different licenses and permits. They are also required to operate out of a commissary kitchen, a kind of home base which they must return to daily in order to restock and clean up. Every mobile food vendor and their commissary kitchen is subject to inspection by the county health department.

Some argue that food trucks and brick-and-mortar restaurants offer different services and unique dining experiences, and that these regulations are unnecessary. Mobile eateries offer fast, casual, on-the-go food. Restaurants offer a broader menu, more consistent hours and a slightly more upscale atmosphere.

Sara Gilman, owner and self proclaimed “master ninja” of the popular Umanami food truck, has been fighting against increased restrictions since last fall. Although she doesn’t think these new regulations will directly impact her business, she fears for the mobile food community as a whole.

“I’m concerned with how this will affect the growth of food trucks in Fort Collins,” Gilman said.

 

Collegian Reporter Cody Moore can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @codymoorecsu