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Monday, August 20, 2012

Let’s Talk Food Trucks!

Photo by Ariel Shearer of The Boston Phoenix

One of the topics I am looking forward to continuing conversations on is the Food Truck ordinance. As someone who has been involved in the economic improvement of Magoun Square, this ordinance was very important to me as it can negatively impact the business district if not thoughtfully crafted.

For the most part, owners of brick and mortar restaurants are open and supportive of food trucks being in the city. The main concern that is repeated is forming an ordinance around them that both welcomes food trucks and compliments existing businesses. A good example of this was suggested by a Teele Square bar owner who pointed out that a truck offering Thai cuisine would be great because the restaurant offering this type of menu burned in a recent fire. On the other hand, a Davis Square eatery owner pointed out that a pizza truck pulling up by her storefront would kill her business as she offers that as a menu option. These two perspectives show that a compromise should be the goal of this ordinance.

Food trucks are becoming big business and great entertainment with competition shows on the Food Network going into their second season. While watching “The Best Thing I Ever Ate,” a popular Chef and TV host spoke of a food truck that only publicized their location through their Twitter handle and offered Korean BBQ. The TV crew filmed a huge line of people outside of the truck window that rivaled M3’s line I saw a few weekends ago. Even existing Somerville businesses, including Kick Ass Cupcakes and Red Bones, have food trucks.

At this point, it’s pretty cheap and easy for a food truck to get their license and pull into Somerville. Just over $60 to the State can get one a license, obeying current traffic & parking laws, and having all proper certification opens the city up to mobile vendors. There are a couple of food trucks in Somerville, already, but a loud generator on one in the Tufts area prompted an ordinance request to be submitted into the Board of Aldermen.

With everyone from the Administration to the Chamber of Commerce to concerned residents offering their views and suggestions an ordinance is slowly, but surely being formed. The cost of a license, operating times and locations, multiple department sign-offs, and even quality control reviews are being proposed with Boston and Cambridge applications being the inspiration. Cambridge even has a review of how healthy the food truck choices have to be before they are issued a license.

A Union Square pilot program has been proposed by the Chamber of Commerce to work out any kinks of the ordinance. There were some members of the Board of Aldermen (as well as the public) who would like to see more locations than just Union Square, but the jury is still out on whether they will consider them.

At this point, no meeting time has been set by the Committee on Legislative Matters, but rest assured I will publish all information as soon as it becomes available. Will I see you at the next meeting? What are your thoughts on food trucks?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

All the years of Pizza trucks etc at Trum, Dilboy, and Foss park, there surely must be some guidelines from the past to set regulations for today's Food trucks.