Kacie Barnes (Galbraith)
It’s food truck season again. As food trucks grow in popularity, more cities are working on policies to set guidelines for these mobile eateries.

Columbia’s Downtown Community Improvement District (CID) hopes to update a city ordinance to allow food trucks on downtown streets. CID board members, restaurant owners, and food truck representatives worked together to find a solution that should please all parties.

Hopefully regulations will not look like the 75 pages of food truck rules that the Council of Washington, D.C., recently introduced. Several food trucks staged a protest a few days before the Council hearing (short video here). Trucks parked at their normal lunch spots, but refused to open for business during the lunch rush. These trucks wanted to show what lunch would be like in their absence if the city imposed overly burdensome regulations on the trucks.

Columbia’s food truck business, on the other hand, is only just beginning. The city has two food trucks operating right now, Pepe’s and Sunflower Waffle Co. But the CID is smart in thinking ahead, looking to prevent issues before a problem starts. The CID board members, restaurant owners, and food truck  representatives all agreed on certain public areas that would be best suited to food truck occupancy.

While it is helpful that varying interests are working together, the city can best encourage food truck business by imposing as few regulations as possible. Excessive rules or fees would deter entrepreneurs from starting up new food trucks. Confining the mobile vendors to specific areas of the city may help keep restaurant owners from complaining, but it also may limit the success of food trucks, if they can’t freely go where customers want them.

About the Author

Kacie Barnes (Galbraith)