Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Food Truck Regulations on the Back Burner Indefinitely

Posted By on Tue, Nov 15, 2011 at 10:28 AM

FoodTruck-confusion.jpg
As The City Paper's Steven Hale reported yesterday afternoon, Metro Public Works' Traffic and Parking Commission has decided not to decide on regulations to govern Nashville's food trucks. This puts a stop to the kicking of the proverbial can down the proverbial street that's happened every month since the commission first took up the issue in August. From the CP:

The commission will work with other Metro agencies, possibly including the fire, health and codes departments, on a set of regulations that will then be presented to the Metro Council for approval.

By deferring the issue indefinitely, the commission freed itself from what has become a pattern of monthly deferrals. Taking a multi-department approach allows for discussion of issues beyond traffic safety and parking.

If you're reading between the lines here, "issues beyond traffic safety and parking" probably means issues of competitive balance — in other words, whether food trucks have an unfair advantage over bricks-and-mortar restaurants. Such concerns have come to dominate the conversation, in spite of initial attempts to limit discussion to the nuts-and-bolts, where-and-when of regulation. "Business is business," one commissioner put it early on, though with a whole new class of vendors taking the city by storm, business is not as usual.

According to the City Paper story, The Nashville Food Truck Association, formed shortly after the first public hearing on regulations, has been granted inclusion in the new round of discussions.

With the council now the ultimate destination for any set of regulations, it looks like this won't be resolved any time soon. An email to Public Works, asking how this multidepartmental effort is going to work and who's going to lead it, had not been answered as of this morning.

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