After more than a year of planning and negotiation with Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration, the City Council on July 25 finally passed an updated mobile vending ordinance liberalizing rules for food trucks in the city.
On July 24, council members held a special economic development committee meeting to review the proposed ordinance, which came from the Landrieu administration after the mayor vetoed an ordinance the council passed in April. The earlier version of the ordinance, drafted by then-Council President Stacy Head, prohibited trucks from operating within 200 feet of a restaurant. (Current law places a 600-foot restriction.)
Food truck operators — and Head — questioned the constitutionality of a proximity requirement but pressed forward with the measure to save time. Landrieu cited the proximity requirement as one of the reasons he vetoed the measure, writing in a statement in May, "it appears certain that it will be invalidated by the court."
The administration's version of the ordinance does not include any proximity requirement. At the July 24 meeting, Council President Jackie Clarkson asked the administration if removing the proximity requirement would be fair to brick-and-mortar restaurants.
"What about economic protection of the largest industry in our city? Are you concerned about that as a lawsuit?" she asked. Landrieu's cultural economy advisor Scott Hutcheson reminded Clarkson that food trucks are a part of that industry.
At the full council meeting the next day (July 25), Clarkson proposed an amendment to include a 100-foot requirement, but she later withdrew it, finding no support for the amendment from other council members.
The new ordinance allows 100 food truck permits. The current cap is 75. The Council also passed an amendment for food truck operators to post public notices of their permit application, so neighborhoods could "weigh in" on their approval, Clarkson said. — Alex Woodward