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BALTIMORE, MD - The Baltimore City Council gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill that would allow the city’s growing food truck industry to operate in more places.

The rewritten bill is an about-face from an earlier version of the legislation, which sought to limit the vendors to specified “food truck zones.” The bill backed Monday still would create new zones for the trucks but continue to allow them at meters on streets throughout the city.

Damian Bohager, president of the Maryland Mobile Food Vendors Association, said the group fought hard to make sure opportunities weren’t limited.

“We were ready to go to war over that,” Bohager said of a proposal to ban the trucks from selling outside designated zones. “The mayor has been good to the food trucks. We didn’t want to threaten to sue an administration that is trying to help you.”

The legislation is intentionally vague, according to Babila Lima, the project manager overseeing the effort for the city. It leaves many decisions up to Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake‘s administration, which would be charged with writing the regulations to implement the bill. For instance, the streets or city-owned lots that would constitute food truck zones have yet to be identified. Nor have details been released about a proposed lottery system to determine which trucks can go where.

Lima said city officials want to make sure current bricks-and-mortar restaurants are protected from competition.

“Our intent is not to harm any businesses in the city but to find a balance,” he said.

Under current rules, the trucks can operate throughout the city but are forbidden to sell within 300 feet of an existing eatery. As a pilot program, the city has already designated nine so-called “food truck zones” where a group of trucks can cluster, such as near the University of Maryland’s Baltimore campus and at the corner of Baltimore and Charles streets.

Additional zones are expected to be named under the new legislation. When trucks have been chosen by lottery to operate in those zones, other vendors will be banned from selling within two blocks.

Council members James Kraft and Mary Pat Clarke had sought to amend the bill to prohibit trucks from parts of their districts, including near O’Donnell Square in Canton and parts of Charles Village and Hampden. Their colleagues declined to adopt the amendments.

Find the entire article at baltimoresun.com <here>

 

Read more: http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-ci-food-truck-vote-20140602,0,1936118.story#ixzz33ZZkid7N

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Maryland Mobile Food Vending AssociationBALTIMORE, MD - Baltimore food truck owners say they’re worried a bill regulating where they can do business in the city doesn’t have enough specifics.

Food truck operators made a strong showing at a Tuesday hearing of the Baltimore City Council’s Judiciary and Legislative Investigations Committee regarding a proposal to regulate where food trucks can park, how they would report their business practices and who would enforce those standards.

Although the food truck owners indicated their willingness to work with the city — and with local brick-and-mortar restaurants — the biggest issues that arose surrounded where food trucks would be allowed to park and exactly how the regulations would be implemented.

While the bill proposes regulating where food trucks can vend, it doesn’t explain the nitty-gritty details of how that regulation will actually take affect — who will receive licenses, which trucks could park where, how zones would be established and other considerations.

Find the entire article at bizjournals.com <here>

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baltimore_county_logoBALTIMORE COUNTRY, MD - An eleventh-hour amendment expanded Baltimore County’s food truck pilot program from a Towson-specific endeavor to a countywide measure, the last in a series of alterations to the guidelines that aimed to make food trucks more welcome outside city limits.

“Legislation sometimes has its twists and turns and this bill had many versions before we found a compromise that lightened the distance between food trucks and restaurants, but expanded the protections countywide,” Councilman David Marks, who represents Towson and introduced the bill, said in a statement. “This legislation strikes a healthy balance between restaurants and food trucks not just in downtown Towson, but throughout Baltimore County.”

County officials and the Maryland Mobile Food Vendors Association had previously agreed to a Towson-exclusive pilot program which would have provided a 300-foot buffer from brick-and-mortar restaurants in exchange for food truck parking zones near the Circuit Court in Towson and Towson University.

But an amendment presented by Councilman John Olszewski Sr., who represents the 7th District including Dundalk, includes the entire county.

Olszeweski said at the meeting that the change was intended to make the new rules “fair to all businesses throughout Baltimore County” by creating one standard.

Read the entire article at baltimoresun.com <here>

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towson mapTOWSON, MD - Towson restaurant owners and food truck advocates said during a Baltimore County Council work session Tuesday that they support a proposed bill that would establish a pilot program to regulate food trucks in downtown Towson.

“Food trucks would like to be a part of Towson as it grows and goes through its redevelopment,” Damian Bohager, president of the Maryland Mobile Food Vendors Association, told the council. “We think it’s a great idea as a pilot program and we look forward to revisiting it in a couple years.”

County law doesn’t currently regulate the food trucks, which park streetside and serve customers on the sidewalks. Several have set up in Towson in recent years, but without official regulation that establishes where they can set up and how they can operate. For that reason, many street food vendors simply avoid Baltimore County.

But the reform legislation, which is scheduled to go before a council vote on Tuesday, could change that in downtown Towson.

The legislation arose from a Planning Board study commissioned in 2011 and completed in summer 2013. Many aspects of the planning study, which includes creation of a food truck license, will remain as part of the pilot program. But the board’s recommendation of a county-wide 300-foot buffer from restaurants was later changed by the council.

During later negotiations between the food vendors association and county officials, the 300-foot buffer was agreed upon for downtown Towson, with a 100-foot buffer applied elsewhere in the county. When the legislation was changed to a pilot program, the 100-foot buffer was dropped elsewhere in the county.

In Towson, under the pilot program, food trucks would be prohibited from parking on York Road, as well as Chesapeake, Allegheny and Pennsylvania avenues between Washington Avenue and York Road.

“It’s so important, not to protect the brick-and-mortar businesses here but to protect their parking in front of their stores,” Nancy Hafford, a Planning Board member and executive director of the Towson Chamber of Commerce, said during the hearing.

Find the entire article from the Baltimore Sun <here>

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townson mdTOWNSON, MD - Legislation that clarifies Baltimore County’s food truck regulations was introduced to the Baltimore County Council Monday night, and if passed, would allow the popular mobile vendors to continue to cater to the downtown Towson business crowd.

“Food trucks are an important part of the diversity of choices in Downtown Towson,” Councilman David Marks, who introduced the bill, said Monday in a statement. “They offer quick food for people who want faster service. They can exist side by side with sit-down restaurants, but should not crowd out those restaurants.”

A lack of clear standards for the trucks has caused many operators to steer clear of setting up food trucks in the county seat. Established brick-and-mortar restaurant owners complained that the food trucks infringed on their businesses, but no applicable regulations protected them.

For that reason, the Maryland Mobile Food Vendors Association requested in 2011 that the county examine its food truck regulations. Over several months, planning staff met with Towson-area business groups and the vendors association to hear each side’s concerns. Issues included parking, health regulations and how close the food trucks could park from brick-and-mortar restaurants.

It became evident that officials needed to start by codifying what a food truck was under the county code. The legislation introduced Monday defines a food truck as a “self-contained mobile vehicle that sells food from the curb side of the vehicle to customers on the curb side of the street.”

But the main issue to work out was to determine how far a distance the food trucks would park from the brick-and-mortar restaurants.

The new legislation states that in downtown Towson, food trucks would be prohibited from parking within 300 feet of a restaurant with the buffer zone just 100 feet everywhere else. This means that food trucks would be prohibited from parking on York Road, as well as Chesapeake, Allegheny and Pennsylvania avenues between Washington Avenue and York Road.

Find the entire article at baltimoresun.com <here>

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