At today's New Orleans City Council meeting, council president Stacy Head introduced several changes to city ordinances governing mobile vending and food trucks. First introduced in 1956, the laws have changed little — Head's proposals ease some of those decades-old restrictions. Head proposed to increase the number of available permits for vendors from 100 to 200, and remove banning vendors from within 600-feet of restaurants (changes to 50 feet while the restaurant is open).
An online petition from the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition (NOFTC) supports the legislation and makes recommendations of its own — it has gathered nearly 600 signatures.
Last week, restaurateur Reuben Laws gathered signatures for another online petition, one asking to halt the legislation, fearing restaurants will have their "sales invaded on by the food truck industry." That petition has 250 signatures.
Rachel Billow, who runs the food truck La Cocinita and serves as NOTFC president, says she "understands some of the fears," but, "the truth is, from what we've seen in other cities, food truck and restaurants thrive side-by-side." The NOFTC has gathered support from dozens of restaurants, community groups and City Hall. "We're glad to see the ball rolling and hopefully we’ll see those changes soon," she says.
Head's proposals will serve as a food truck "pilot program" with potentially stronger, more comprehensive ordinances in he future. City Council will likely vote on the measures next month.