Can food trucks and restaurants peacefully coexists side-by-side? Or do the trucks have an unfair advantage? The topic will be discussed at the New Orleans City Council meeting today.
Food trucks have been a controversial issue for some since they started appearing in great numbers after Hurricane Katrina. Jefferson Parish banned them. New Orleans has restrictions on how they operate. Today, the city council looks at making changes to those rules to make food trucks easier to operate.
Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson says one thing she's worried about is how close the trucks can get to established restaurants.
"I don't like the hundred feet from the restaurants, but I don't honestly know a good measurement," she said at a recent committee hearing on the proposals.
One of the proposed changes is a minimum 100 away from existing restaurant property, rather than 600 feet. Clarkson says she worries the proposed 100 rule is too close.
Rachel Billow with the food truck coalition said other cities don't have mandatory minimum distance requirements, and said such requirements might not even be legal.
"The Institute for Justice has successfully eliminated proximity requirements in other cities," Billow said. "It's likely unconstitutional."
Clarkson warned the coalition that if they want to argue constitutionality, she'll be happy to see them in court.
"You'll have to prove that to me," Clarkson said. "You don't want to go there with me on that. Don't argue that with me."
Other concerns include sanitation, and whether food truck operators must provide restroom access or at least park near a restroom that's publicly accessible. Billow said that could be a problem for the coalition, but one they can live with.
"I think it will limit trucks' abilities to serve some of these 'food desert' areas," she said, "but that being said, I'm not-- if that's what it's going to take to push the proposal through, I think that that's fine."