Yeah, I used a pun. What of it?
So, since I’m all unemployed and stuff now, I have time to take on these things called “causes.” And instead of taking on something noble, like good people do, I decided to tackle an important issue for me: street food. That is, food that is mobile. It can come to me!
In all seriousity though. What I’m a fan of about this awesome new food truck model is the way they have banded together in Denver. They’ve created this little mobile foodie community and when small businesses get together like that and promote unity in the community and throw killer parties (Justice League of Street Food, I’m talking about you here).
Recently, there’s been a lot of controversy surrounding the food trucks and the zoning (or supposed zoning) laws in Denver and it’s seemed that the city has a vendetta against the trucks and their trying to put the parking brake on the new street food craze permanently. I can’t believe I just made another pun like that.
Anyway, there was a council meeting yesterday and since I have ample free time, I decided to go to learn more about this debacle and here’s kind of what I took away from the meeting.
Most of the council seems to be in support of the food trucks.
Most of the talk that came from the members of the Denver district council was very favorable towards the food trucks and they seem to genuinely want to make things easier for these local business owners. It’s the zoning zombies the food trucks need to worry about.
Denver Downtown District completely prohibits food trucks.
Seriously, you can’t have a food truck downtown at all because of laws put into place back in 1994, when the city was working on turning downtown into a destination. My guess is they wanted to prevent a certain type of food truck from showing up in Downtown and making the city look cheap.
Also, because businesses in this area pay extra for nicer streetlights and signs, they have a pretty strong voice about laws pertaining to the area. One councilman suggested restaurants in the area may be opposed to the food trucks because they’ll add too much competition. To this, I have to say, quit your bitchen and make good food, provide good service and a great atmosphere and you have nothing to worry about. If you’re relying on selling food just because of your location, well then, start shitting yourself, because those food trucks are coming.
Parks and Recreation is run by idiots.
I’m not even kidding. The representative they chose to have a microphone, Stu Bader, acted as if he had never even looked at any of the zoning regulations and he certainly had never had to defend or define the zoning laws to another human. What was more embarrassing was that another member of his department in the crowd ended up having to stand up and explain everything for the council. Bader didn’t say a word for the rest of the meeting. He just took up a seat in front of the microphone.
The permits are different for EACH AND EVERY park in Denver because each park has a different manager and they decide where, if anywhere at all, the food trucks can vend. Some managers just decide not to allow food vendors and if they are allowed, it’s only in very specific areas. No food trucks are allowed within 300 feet of a park (they can park 301 feet away from a park, even in a residential neighborhood as long as they abbey the right of way laws).
Also, a permit to vend in a park is $200 per month. That’s not so bad. A permit for one days is $100. That. Is ludicrous.
The biggest zoning rule that needs to be changed:
There is one rule that states that all food trucks must be at least 200 feet apart from one another and other restaurants. This pretty much rules out any food truck get together until this zoning law is changed. I hope the council sees this as priority to change as well. I totally want to get a biscuit from one truck and a cupcake from another while they’re parked in the same area.
This is getting a little long, so I’ll wrap this up. My hope is that all of these awful separate city entities that are hellbent on keeping all their information compartmentalized suck it up, pool their knowledge and get some shit clarified very soon.
I want a Justice League of Street Food block party this summer! Several times.
If you want to express your opinion, email firstname.lastname@example.org. She is heading up a task force to clarify the rules.