Detroit’s council passed new rules last week that allow food trucks in greater numbers to start operating next spring.
“From an equity standpoint and from a food access standpoint, we believe food trucks should be able to operate in public spaces across the city,” city councilor Raquel Castañeda-Lopez, who introduced the measure, told the Detroit Free Press. Yes.
Many supporters of downtown Detroit seem a little happy.
Eric Larson (CEO of Downtown Detroit Partnership), stated that while I am not against any ordinance, it is important to be clear about what can and cannot happen in the streets. He also supports fairness and harmony. Detroit Free Press. We must continue to look for ways to help all small businesses equally.
Although words like “fairness, harmony, and “equitably”, make for nice vocabulary, they hide the protectionist spirit that underlies the new ordinance.
The “Food truck must be located 200 feet from any existing restaurants and 300 yards from entertainment or sports areas.” No costReport also indicates that some food truck may cease operations after 11:59 p.m.
Larson may have been referring to Larson because of his elusive nature. we kinda sorta like it remarks aren’t a huge surprise, given that Downtown Detroit Partnership’s member list includes a host of giant companies and traditional food-truck opponents—including brick-and-mortar restaurateurs and the realty groups that rent space to them.
Indeed, in discussions of expanding food truck access to other parts of Detroit—or any city or town in America—the devil’s in the details.
American Coney Island is an American brick-and-mortar hotdog joint that was opened in Detroit since 1917. It closed just a few days after the vote by the city council. tweetedThe owner expressed dismay at the “fleet” of food trucks that parked alongside its street, and complained about having to face competition. Deadline Detroit reports that Grace Keros was particularly worried about hot dog trucks. Her neighbor Lafayette Coney Island also seemed upset, she said. American Coney Island is a brick-and mortar neighbor that has been selling hot dogs for over 100 year. Lafayette Coney Island is the same as American Coney Island. You can read that again.
Those commenters get it. Radius restrictions are illegally protecting bricks-and-mortar eateries from competitors. There is nothing else.
Detroit is not the only one. Beatrice councilors, located south of Lincoln in Nebraska, are currently examining how to regulate the operation of food trucks in their city. Although at least one councilor called food trucks “a shining spot in the community”, Lincoln Journal StarAccording to reports, this week’s council seems determined to make sure that bright spots aren’t parked near any brick-and mortar restaurant within the city.
The ordinance prohibits mobile food vendors within 50 feet from food establishments, but Rick Clabaugh suggested changing it to 100 feet. Journal StarNotification.
Is 50 feet not enough? What about 100 feet? Or 300 feet? You could go a mile. Oder in another city?
A little over a year ago, we discussed the issue of a brick-and mortar owner. She wanted Seymour in Indiana to prohibit food trucks as her restaurant could not compete with Chick-fil A, the national chain that occasionally allowed food trucks to park in her city.
They are not needed in downtown Seymour, as there are many restaurants that want to expand and make the city a better place. Lori Keithley, owner of Brewskies, asked the question at that time.
“The point?” I wondered? It’s choice and competition. But those who are unable or unwilling to compete will raise their hand and demand that the government limit competition. That’s protectionism.”
We love food trucksThese critics appear to believe that “If they could just keep their potential customers far from them,.”
While the pandemic has decimated the restaurant industry, I noted last year, “rather than making life easier for brick-and-mortar restaurants—say, by lifting barriers to entry or by making it easier and less costly for restaurants to operate—many cities and towns have decided instead to make life harder for food trucks.”
Food trucks make a great addition to every city and neighborhood. They’re also—as recent examples in Bridgeport, Dearborn, and Centerville (outside Dayton) remind us—a great way for entrepreneurs to test out concepts that can grow into one or more brick-and-mortar restaurants. While consumers would be foolish to leave food trucks alone—so many of them serve really great food—lawmakers and regulators should just leave them be.