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Permits

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La Cocinita NOLA food truckNEW ORLEANS, LA - Food truck permit registration has begun. The rules found at the city’s “one-stop shop” for business permits and licenses. There are 100 mobile food vendor permits available, thanks to legislation that passed last July allowing for trucks and fewer operating restrictions.

New Orleans City Council vice president Stacy Head kicked off food truck legislation discussions last year. After a lengthy back-and-forth with food truck advocates, City Council members, the Louisiana Restaurant Association, and even the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals.

Head wrote in a statement, “I believe that food trucks are an excellent small business model, they can contribute to community development and commercial corridor revitalization (as evidenced by Freret Street and O.C. Haley Boulevard), they can provide healthy and delicious food options in areas of our city that are considered food deserts, and they can even deter crime by creating more walkable communities.”

Find the entire article at bestofneworleans.com <here>

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noblesville city hallNOBLESVILLE, IN - Noblesville isn’t exactly rolling out the welcome mat for food trucks.

A divided Common Council approved changes in zoning law Tuesday that allow mobile food vendors to operate year-round in the city—with several restrictions and a fee that all but guarantees few will bother to make the trip.

Saying the proposed $200 annual permit fee was too low, Councilor Rick Taylor offered up an amendment increasing it to $1,000. The modification—and zoning measure—passed by a 4-3 vote after spirited discussion.

The debate was a familiar one: whether permitting mobile vendors puts taxpaying bricks-and-mortar establishments at risk.

“Do we want to encourage food trucks to come in … and potentially put one of these [restaurants] out of business?” asked council President Roy Johnson. He voted with Taylor, Mark Boice and Jeff Zeckel to hike the fee, saying it gives vendors a “vested interest” in the community.

Council member Stephen Wood said patrons, not politicians, should decide the fate of businesses. Colleagues Gregory O’Connor and Brian Ayer joined him in the minority.

“It’s good competition,” Wood said of food trucks. “And if they come and are successful here, they may open businesses here.”

That entrepreneurial element was among the points city Planning Director Christy Langley made in presenting the recommended zoning changes to the council.

“Food trucks can literally be an incubator” for bricks-and-mortar restaurants, she said.

Find the entire article by Andrea Muirragui Davis at ibj.com <here>

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OAKLAND, CA - The Oakland City Council showed its support for food trucks Tuesday when it approved modified ordinances reducing daily site operation fees from $100 to $50 and extending the program which allows group mobile food vending to July 2013.

Oakland Food Truck Map

Since January 2012, the city has allowed food trucks to do business along public streets provided that at least three trucks form a cluster together on a single, temporary site. Prior to that, food trucks were only permitted on private property.

Contrary to initial expectations, the majority of the food vending sites have materialized in and around the downtown area, with five out of seven located within a half-mile radius from City Hall. At the time of the program’s introduction, it was hoped that it might help restore active street life to areas of the city where parking lots dominate the landscape.

According to vendors and their supporters, the appearance of the trucks has contributed improvements in neighborhood vitality, additions to the city’s culinary and cultural offerings, and new opportunities for small business owners.

Opposition to the food truck program has come mainly from the owners of nearby restaurants, who voice concerns over the effects of street vending on their business.

Find the entire article by Carsten Rodin at Oakland Local <here>

 

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OAKLAND, CA - Oakland’s year old pilot permit program for mobile food trucks will come under review Tuesday as city council considers renewing the policy.

Oakland_foodtrucks

Lydia Chow/Flickr

The experimental program allows food trucks to sell in designated areas during normal business hours. The project is set to expire January 2013. The seven permitted sites for trucks include Snow Park, Bites off of Broadway and Splash Pad Park.

The updated policy was in response to pressure from Oakland’s food truck businesses.

According to a report to council, more time is needed to work on developing a permanent solution.

“Due to the complex nature of regulating mobile food vending inside and outside the public right-of-way, involving coordination across several city departments, it will not be possible to adopt new citywide regulations prior to the expiration of the current interim group site regulations,” the report notes.

That report also include results from a survey about the permit program.

While food truck vendors mostly liked the new program, results were mixed among brick and mortar businesses operating nearby. Restaurant owners, in particular, were upset about the food trucks.

In 2012, Oakland issued nine vehicular food vending permits and 17 pushcart permits. City staff said it expects to bring proposals for a permanent citywide mobile food program before the Council’s community economic development subcommittee in early 2013.

With the growth of food truck vendors, new scrutiny also is coming from county food inspectors.

The Alameda County Environmental Health Department is about to step up its enforcement efforts with the addition of three new inspectors. The new employees are expected to help provide additional examinations of food trucks and restaurants. The new inspectors will come aboard in January.

All food trucks and restaurants must get inspected by the county to operate. County officials said the goal is to increase inspections from an annual visit to three times a year.

“The number of mobile food units is increasing and that’s why we are hiring three additional people,” Don Atkinson-Adams, supervisor of the Alameda County Environmental Health Specialist division, said. Currently, there are 350 mobile food trucks in the county.

“I’ve been asking for more inspectors for 15 years,” he said.

Atkinson-Adams said that county inspectors look at a number of items when they are checking mobile food trucks.

“We’re examining whether (food trucks) keep their food safe,” he said. “We look at whether they are keeping the food at a proper temperature. We’re also looking at other things like inadequate hand washing by employees.”

Inspectors take into account the types of food being served by the trucks.

“Each place can be different and we definitely pay attention to what’s on the menu,” Atkinson-Adams said. “Different food means different equipment.”

Find the original article by Jennifer Inez Ward at Oakland Local <here>

 

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korilla

NEW YORK CITY, NY - Running a food truck may be the hippest job around. But there is a shadowy side to food trucks’ fun and quirky image.

In order to get started, many of these gourmet trucks flout the law, and pay high prices to obtain black-market vendor permits. They say they have no choice.

Ed Song is a part of the new wave of gourmet trucks. Together with two friends, he started Korilla, a group of three bright orange trucks that sell bulgogi, burritos and tofu tacos.

Speaking from his office in Ridgewood, Queens, the spiky-haired 26-year old sporting a Mickey Mouse T-Shirt said he decided to start a food business shortly after graduating from Columbia with a degree in economics and mathematics.

It was the year Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers failed, and striking out on his own seemed like the best path.

“All the jobs in finance were all drying up. And so I decided to take the opportunity to do what I wanted to do. And follow a passion,” said Song, whose parents emigrated to New York from South Korea.

Then Song discovered the fact that confronts every new food truck entrepreneur: to sell prepared food on the streets of New York City you need a permit. It’s a little bit like a driver’s license, authorizing the holder to be on the road.

A Mobile Permit Road Block 

There are only 3,000 citywide, two-year permits, and there are so many names on the wait list (more than 2,000) that the Department of Health hasn’t taken names since 2007.

“There really is no legal channel to go through to obtain a permit,” he said.

So Song (right) turned to a middleman for the permit for one of his three trucks (the other two permits he obtained by going into partnership with existing permit holders).

Recalling his first contact with the middleman, Song said “it was scary. You’re giving them a lot of hundred dollar bills without a receipt. It’s just the nature of the business.”

After an initial down payment, Song took the truck to the Department of Health for inspection, and when it passed, he paid the balance and received the white sticker that’s now on the side of the truck. In total, it cost about $20,000.

Several others in the food truck business confirmed the existence of a large and robust underground market for permits. But only Ed Song allowed his name to be used.

One popular vendor told WNYC anonymously that turning to the black market went against her instincts, as someone who’d worked in a variety of retail and service businesses.

“All the other jobs or businesses I was involved with were much more straightforward in terms of paperwork or how you get a license for something,” she said.

Vendors say the city’s Health Department does a thorough job of checking sanitary conditions in trucks. And traffic police frequently chase trucks out of spaces where vending is not allowed. But by ignoring the trade in permits, the Health Department forces them into the black market it claims it’s trying to eliminate.

It’s not known how many trucks operate under illicitly procured permits.

Song isn’t even sure whose name is on the permit he uses, and treats as his own.

“I could try to remember. I do have his name somewhere,” he said. “I don’t think this person even lives in New York City.”

Find the entire article by Ilya Marritz at wnyc.org <here>

 

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