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Legislation

food truck laws

Opening a food truck requires a lot of work and preparation. As a part of the preparation, you must become familiar with and adhere to the local food truck laws that govern the mobile food industry.

Failure to do so could result in your mobile business failing inspection and potentially being shut down. Since this is never a food truck vendor’s desired goal, you will want to make sure you understand the food truck laws and ensure that your food truck follows them.

Food Truck Laws You Need To Know

If you are opting to build your truck business from scratch rather than purchase an existing truck, you will first have to familiarize yourself with parking and zoning laws. In each city and town there are specific zones set up that separate where a particular business can operate.

Before you purchase your truck, it is important that you contact the city parking and zoning departments to ensure that the area you are interested in operating in will allow your vehicle to set up shop. You will be best served to make sure you know any vehicle size limitations as well as the amount of time a food truck can remain parked in one location before being required to move.

The most important laws that you will need to understand for your food truck are those that center on the Food Code. The Food Code was established by the FDA as a guideline for local and state governments as a way to regulate the mobile food industry and protect the health and safety of consumers, residents and employees.

Though it is used as a guideline, the Food Code is not a requirement of the state and local government. Each will have their own version specific to that area. In most areas, the Department of Health will be in charge of establishing and enforcing the local Food and Health Codes. It is important that you contact the Department of Health in the beginning of your planning stages of your business to ensure that everything is done according to the local laws.

Given its name and the fact that it was established by the FDA, the Food Code can often be mistaken for regulations that only govern food. This is not accurate as the Department of Health in your local area will have laws and regulations set up that cover virtually anything related to health, food and safety in a food service business.

Some things that these laws will cover include:

  • Preparation, handling, storage and display of any food products that your mobile business plans to offer.
  • The health, cleanliness and hygiene of the personnel that work in your business.
  • All aspects of the equipment and utensils that are being used including what material they are manufactered of, the installation, and even how they are stored.
  • Every facet of the utilities and services that you will need including the generators, propane and waste water, how you dispose of waste, and the way you handle pests.
  • How the truck is constructed and whether it holds the proper features such as ventilation and lighting.
  • Whether or not inspections are carried out, passed and any enforcement is needed.

The best way to ensure the success of your food truck business from the start is to contact the proper agencies and know your local laws before you begin planning. This allows you to ensure that everything from your equipment to your food meets the criteria in the codes so that you can pass inspection and have a successful opening day.

See if we have your city food truck laws listed on our quick link page.

If you know of a link we are missing, please feel free to share it with us via email, Twitter or Facebook.

Jacksonville Food trucks

JACKSONVILLE, FL – In a closely watched issue for local food truck owners and fans, drafted legislation for Jacksonville’s food truck ordinance will go before City Council committees this week.

Councilman Reggie Brown proposed new rules for food trucks back in February, including regulations for business hours and where they can operate.

Critics of these rules said they would essentially legislate food trucks out of existence.

How can the City Council and food truck owners balance concerns about health and safety, while at the same time making sure they’re not suffocating a growing business and popular cultural trend here in Northeast Florida?

Chef Chriss Brown, owner of Beaver Street Commissary, where many of the food trucks park, joined First Coast Connect guest host Karen Feagins to discuss the legislation.

Find the original article with audio at wjct.org <here>

menu food truck toronto

TORONTO, CANADA – Summer is the season for food trucks, but many vendors say despite the new regulations it’s still a challenge doing business in the city.

“That’s the hardest part. There is nowhere to park cause there are restaurants all over Toronto,” said Bryan Siu-Chong who is co-founder of MeNU Food Truck.

On Tuesday afternoon, MeNU Food Truck was parked along University, just outside Toronto General Hospital. When Global News was there, a security guard approached Siu-Chong at the truck to tell them they were not supposed to be there – apparently, because there was a food court in the hospital, they were violating the 50-metre rule.

Global News checked with City Hall’s Municipal Licensing and Standards department. We learned that MeNU was in the right place and did not have to move.

Carleton Grant is the Director of Policy and Strategic Support for the department. He said the rule is only for restaurants that are facing a street, not food courts inside a building.

“Now we need to educate the businesses, the parking lots , the hospitals the security guards, what the rules are,” said Grant.
When the city introduced the permit system it allowed for 125 permits at a cost of $5000 each. To date, only 14 permits have been picked up by gourmet food trucks.

Zane Caplansky owns a food truck and a restaurant, Caplansky’s Delicatessen. He says he opted not to get a permit. “It is the most expensive mobile vending permit in the world, and it’s useless.” Said Caplansky.

Find the entire article at globalnews.ca <here>

empty battle creek streets
Jennifer Bowman/The Enquirer

BATTLE CREEK, MI – The lines on Jackson Street are painted and the ordinance is now on the books, but only one vendor has so far applied for a license since Battle Creek commissioners voted to allow food trucks downtown.

“The current application volume is about what we expected,” Jessica VanderKolk, the city’s communications specialist, said in an email Thursday. “We were not anticipating a large number of applications in the immediate term.”

Shane Farlin, owner of the food truck Hogzilla Squeals on Wheels, said he applied for the downtown vending license, the only one to have done so as of Wednesday morning. He said he already has a state-issued veterans peddler’s license and is exempt from additional fees because he is former military.

The City Commission voted in a new vending ordinance July 1, allowing up to seven food trucks to operate on Jackson Street beginning 10 days later. This week, crews marked off parking spaces and installed signs designating the spots for vending.

The issue sparked a months-long debate as downtown restaurant owners voiced concerns over unfair competition in an area that doesn’t have a large enough customer base to support the food trucks. After discussions over locations and the addition of a provision that would end mobile vending downtown after 2015 unless renewed, commissioners adopted the ordinance in a 7-2 vote.

Vendors can operate as early as 7 a.m. and as late as 3 a.m. and must pay a $30 monthly license fee. VanderKolk said because the ordinance requires a background check on all employees involved in transactions, it is the city’s standard practice that each employee must acquire a license.

Find the entire article at battlecreekenquirer.com <here>

provo city hall

PROVO, UT – Mobile food businesses were given some new marching orders Tuesday: Stay out of downtown Provo, unless invited for a special occasion.

The Provo Municipal Council approved unanimously, with two council members missing, an ordinance on licensing and regulating food truck vendors, what they can and cannot do, and where they can do it.

Highlights of the new regulations include the following:

  • Food trucks will not be allowed in the downtown area without special permission from the city administration, exceptions would be allowed for special events in the downtown area.
  • Food trucks will be allowed adjacent to city parks with approval from the parks director.
  • Background checks will be done on food truck owners and drivers but not on all employees.
  • Multiple food trucks will be allowed to operate on the same street.

Those missing were chairman Hal Miller and council member Gary Garrett.

“I feel the document we have come up with is very good,” said councilman Stephen Hales.

Members of the brick and mortar restaurant owners group, truck vendors and other downtown residents met during the past two weeks to agree on what is good for everyone.

Discussion considered how federal law may prohibit restriction on the free markets and how food trucks can be kept from the Center Street area.

The accepted distance is a 100-foot radius from the main entrance of a brick and mortar restaurant. However, the number of restaurants and the type of parking available already is very prohibitive in the downtown area.

One suggestion included the city’s mayor signing off on exemptions for trucks in the downtown area.

“Overall I’m not excited about exemptions coming to me,” Mayor John Curtis said. “That’s all I would be doing — approving exemptions.”

Some discussion included using a neighborhood chair to help.

Council attorney Brian Jones said, “The intent only applies to the downtown neighborhood chair. All of legal staff have concerns about a prohibition district. We’re creating a district in which food trucks cannot enter, except on special occasions. Granting power to grant exceptions is taking away the power of the administration.”

Find the entire article at heraldextra.com <here>

salem oregon

SALEM, OR – Salem could be on the verge of joining the street food craze.

At a meeting Monday, the council approved changes in city code to ease restrictions on mobile food vendors. The council’s action strikes down regulations that had banned groups of food vendors from gathering on private property. It also loosened restrictions how long food trucks could stay at one location.

“I think this is the right thing to do. We have government barriers keeping these businesses from operating,” said Salem City Councilor Diana Dickey. “This is only going to enhance our food culture.”

The change in the code is effective immediately. Mobile food vendors say it could clear the way for food “pods,” similar to those found in the Portland area, to pop up in Salem.

Richard Foote, a representative of the Salem Food Truck Association, said food vendors were already discussing gathering in groups for “food truck rallies” this summer.

Find the entire article at statesmanjournal.com <here>

santa cruz downtown

SANTA CRUZ, CA – Last week, the Santa Cruz City Council agreed to study changes in the vending rules to make it easier for food truck operators to thrive. In bringing the request to colleagues, Councilwomen Hilary Bryant and Pamela Comstock cited the popularity of high-quality food trucks.

“Mobile food businesses are a major player in the national culinary scene, and I’d like to see Santa Cruz capitalize on that,” Comstock said. “Modifying our existing ordinances will promote entrepreneurship and give our community convenient access to more food choices.”

Along with cosmopolitan cities such as San Francisco, Los Angeles and Washington, Business Insider reported in May that unlikely towns are sharing in the nearly 200 percent growth of food trucks in recent years, according to research by a tracking group called Roaming Hunger. Orlando, Cleveland and Indianapolis rank high for the number of food trucks per capita.

Comstock, Bryant and Mayor Lynn Robinson will examine the issue for three to four months and make recommendations. Bryant noted a burgeoning food truck scene at UC Santa Cruz and said she would like to see trucks serve the Harvey West area or, in the future, along the San Lorenzo Riverwalk.

But as they are keenly aware, by loosening the restrictions, the council members will have to consider times, locations and costs, as well as impacts on traditional restaurants downtown, near the beach and on the Eastside — some of which are still recovering from the Great Recession and struggle to stay viable during the offseason.

Zachary Davis, one half of a successful duo who opened the chic Penny Ice Creamery and Picnic Basket cafe before delivering the much buzzed-about Assembly restaurant, said there is room to support sit-down eateries and food trucks alike.

“I definitely understand concerns from brick-and-mortar businesses about having to pay parking deficiency fees and traffic impact fees that you might be able to avoid by being mobile,” Davis said of fees charged by the city. “Personally, I take the view that anything that promotes activity and people on the street — people going out and dining out and exploring new things — in a holistic sense benefits the community and benefits Santa Cruz.”

Davis said the creamery — which won national acclaim when Vice President Joe Biden called Davis and business partner Kendra Baker to laud their video praising the federal stimulus funds that enabled their venture — almost started as an ice cream truck. But the pair pulled back because of the city’s restrictions, Davis said.

Find the entire article at santacruzsentinel.com <here>

tempe food trucks

TEMPE, AZ – The Tempe City Council expressed concern over updating food truck regulations allowing vendors to operate on public streets and public property throughout the city during its meeting on June 30.

Council members discussed the public safety concerns associated with allowing food trucks to operate in downtown Tempe, as well as the impact food trucks could have on local businesses in the area.

“The city wants to establish a new process that would make it easier for food truck vendors to operate on public streets and public property, including city parks, Tempe Public Library and around Tempe City Hall, while maintaining public safety,” according to a statement released by Tempe media spokesperson Amanda Nelson.

Community Services Director Shelley Hearn presented a revised ordinance to the council before hearing the committees’ concerns.

Based on feedback from the Phoenix Street Food Coalition, the Tempe Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Restaurant Association and the downtown Tempe community, the revised ordinance included adjusted business hours and a good neighbor policy for food truck operators throughout Tempe, Hearn said.

“The intent is to bring it [the ordinance] back to COW [the City Council

Committee of the Whole] with the finalized ordinance revisions for food trucks in August,” she added.

Council members addressed the revised ordinance shortly after reviewing the material. Though few residents have expressed public safety concerns about food trucks operating in downtown Tempe, Councilmember Shana Ellis said public safety is an issue that needs to be addressed, noting,

“My concern is that food trucks are a lot wider than regular cars, so if they’re parked sideways they could block the bike lanes. When we have a streetcar going down there, there’s no way for the streetcar to maneuver around something like a food truck,” she said.

She added food trucks should not be allowed on streets like Mill Avenue where they may threaten the safety of bike commuters in the area.

Councilmember Kolby Granville disagreed.

Find the entire article at eastvalleytribune.com <here>

Chippewa falls wi sign

CHIPPEWA FALLS, WI – Vending food trucks are a growing industry nationwide, but the Chippewa Falls City Council wants more information before allowing trucks to set up shop in the city.

The council unanimously approved a resolution Tuesday that creates a moratorium on mobile vending food trucks in the city.

Council President Bill Hicks said he would like to see the council finish an ordinance before the river front park opens. The proposed park would be located along the north shore of the Chippewa River. Hicks said the park would likely attract vending trucks.

“I think it’s a good process, and it might be a lengthy one, to get an ordinance in place,” Hicks said.

The moratorium has no declared end date. It is in place until the city can investigate and analyze the industry and practices more fully.

Exceptions to the moratorium include vendors at the Northern Wisconsin State Fairgrounds and at Pure Water Days events, as well as food delivery trucks like Schwans. Vendors set up in parking lots of retail businesses with the permission of that business — like a stand in the Gordy’s parking lot — also will still be allowed.

Find the entire article at leadertelegram.com <here>

Deets toledo

TOLEDO, OH – Mayor D. Michael Collins’ menu of new regulations for the city’s growing food-truck industry quickly broke down on Tuesday under the pressure from supporters of the mobile businesses.

Toledo City Council last week was handed a set of proposed new rules, which included requirements that food-truck operators apply for permits that could cost up to $1,000 per year, obtain $1 million in liability insurance, operate during certain hours and in certain locations, and not park within 100 feet of entrances to brick-and-mortar restaurants.

The intent was to protect downtown restaurants from mounting mobile competition.

Ninety people — the majority of whom opposed the stricter regulations — packed council chambers Tuesday for a hearing on the legislation.

After hours of testimony, council declined to entertain a vote on the legislation and instead sent it back to Mayor Collins.

“That $1,000 is way too much,” said Phil Barone, owner of Rosie’s Italian Grille in Springfield Township. “I didn’t make that much down there.”

Rosie’s is one of nine trucks that have operated downtown, mostly near Levis Square.

Mr. Barone said he was “ecstatic” that council didn’t approve the new regulations.

The mayor’s staff originally said the proposal was a response to complaints from restaurants in the downtown business district about food-truck operators.

Mayor Collins backed away from the proposal after the lengthy and, at times, heated hearing.

“This was the beginning of a working document,” Mr. Collins said to council during its regular meeting, which was also Tuesday.

“It was not our intent to bring this forward for a vote,” he said. “I am taking the legislation back. I will await further discussion. … I clearly heard today the stakeholders want a part of it.”

Ed Becyznski, the owner of Blarney Irish Pub and Focaccia’s Deli in the HCR ManorCare building, said he supports having vendors on the street, but wants food-truck service limited to one day a week because of the economic impact the trucks have on the eateries.

“I’m not worried about competition,” Mr. Becyznski said. “It makes my game better.”

Food-truck owners blasted the proposed legislation, which was based on existing law in Cincinnati, Law Director Adam Loukx said.

Councilman Sandy Spang said the city should develop its own rules governing food trucks rather than “cut and paste” the legislation from another city.

Find the entire article at toledoblade.com <here>

 

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