TRAVERSE CITY — It’s official: Food trucks can set up their roaming shops downtown starting May 16.
Traverse City commissioners agreed by a 5-to-2 count to allow up to two mobile food vendors to operate year-round in four city parking lots and on State Street between Union and Pine streets. The designated parking lots near downtown are: the volleyball courts, Union Street dam, U.S. Post Office and the farmers market site. Vendors cannot operate while the market is in progress.
The ordinance also allows up to two trucks on some streets near Northwestern Michigan College, the Civic Center, Munson Medical Center, and some of the city’s larger parks.
Vendors will pay $1,225 annually to park on city and private property, $725 for city property only, and $500 for private property only. Space will be available on a first-come, first-served basis.
“We think this is a compromise. Everyone was a little bit happy. Everyone was little bit unhappy,” said Commissioner Mary Ann Moore, who thought the city’s vending ordinance that charged food trucks $100 a day to operate on private property was a real “deal killer.”
Commissioner Jim Carruthers said more freedom for food trucks can be a vehicle for attracting the young, creative class to Traverse City, and it “really isn’t going to affect the brick and mortar business.”
Nick McAllister, owner of House of Doggs, argues the opposite. He worries his business will take a hit in the summer — the most critical season for business.
”All I’ve been fighting for is my employees because it’s just not that lucrative of a business,” McAllister said. “It’s a lot of rent and taxes and everything just to be in these prime locations downtown.”
Simon Joseph, owner of Roaming Harvest food truck, wanted the ordinance to allow for longer hours so trucks could cater to the bar crowd. Vendors can operate from 7 a.m. until 11 p.m. in the city parking lots and along State Street, and 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. in semi-residential areas.