New Orleans City Council President Stacy Head has introduced several proposed changes to the local ordinance governing mobile vending and food trucks. Specifically, Head wants to increase the number of available permits for vendors from 100 to 200 and alter a local ban against vendors operating within 600 feet of restaurants. She proposes to shrink the "no vendors" zone to 50 feet while a restaurant is open.
First adopted in 1956, local laws regulating mobile food vendors have changed little over the years. An online petition from the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition (NOFTC) supports the legislation and makes recommendations of its own. The petition had gathered more than 600 signatures as of press time. Meanwhile, restaurateur Reuben Laws is seeking signatures for a rival online petition, this one seeking to halt Head's proposed changes, fearing restaurants will have their "sales invaded on by the food truck industry." That petition had 265 signatures as of press time.
Rachel Billow, who runs the food truck La Cocinita and serves as NOFTC president, said in other cities, food trucks and restaurants thrive side-by-side." The NOFTC has gathered support from dozens of restaurants, community groups and City Hall.
Head's proposals will serve as a food truck "pilot program" with potentially stronger, more comprehensive ordinances in the future. She first pursued updating the ordinances last year. The City Council will likely vote on the measures next month. — Alex Woodward