Traverse City Record-Eagle


February 24, 2013

Editorial: TC can't delay decision on food trucks


The prime question now is where.

The DDA rejected a proposal by members John Di Giacomo and Leah McCallum-Bagdon to allow mobile food units anywhere downtown, except along Front Street between Boardman and Union, and within 20 feet of any intersection. That seemed too good a start to be rejected out of hand.

City commissioner Jim Carruthers, who chairs a City Commission committee studying the food truck issue, said alternative locations to the main business district could be possible — such as Pine Street, East State and East Front. West Front from Pine west to Division and the city lots on the north side of the Boardman River should also be considered, as should some downtown alleys.

The food truck movement would seem to be right at home in Traverse City, which is gaining a national reputation as a foodie haven and is home to a number of top-flight restaurants offering new, eclectic menus.

The city must decide details, and soon. Dozens of other communities across the country have had food trucks — and, presumably, food truck ordinances — for years, so the city is not breaking new ground.

Setting a fair fee structure will be key. Food trucks can’t pay so little that they have an unfair advantage over established restaurants, but not so much that they can’t make a profit. Dozens of cities across the country have long dealt with food trucks, so there’s no need to create something out of thin air. The city has been gathering data from other cities; it shoule build from there.

More delays are unacceptable. There are people who want to bring new food ideas to a hungry community, just as there have always been; these just happen to do business out of a truck. It’s up to the city to make room for them.



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