For the last year, New Orleans City Council president Stacy Head has been pushing a revised ordinance that would allow more food trucks in the city — current legislation caps mobile vendors at 100, and prevents them from operating within 600 feet of a restaurant, among other restrictions.
Today, Head responded to Jackie Clarkson's request (which followed a heated debate, on her part, in March) for a written Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH) thumbs up that it will continue random on-site inspections of food trucks in the city. In a statement today, Head wrote:
Many have wondered if food truck operators are required to have sinks, store food properly, or follow any of the same health regulations as standard restaurants. Here are some facts: 1) food trucks are subject to all of the same health regulations as standard restaurants; 2) food trucks are required to have three sinks, one for hand washing and two for food preparation; 3) food trucks are subject to initial inspections with the same level of scrutiny as standard restaurants. Also, I am pleased to share that as of Friday, April 5, [the DHH] has given the Council its written commitment to increase unannounced spot inspections.
Head also said new legislation will include requirements for food trucks to coordinate restroom availability and operate at least 100 feet away from a brick-and-mortar restaurant. "I have worked with (the Louisiana Restaurant Association), DHH, and a very small group of vocal opponents on compromises that should address some of their objections," Head wrote.
The New Orleans Food Truck Alliance also wrote a statement today, which argued that the ordinance has become "the victim of the political process" and "larded up with additional restrictions that would effectively maintain the status quo," including making the CBD, Warehouse District and French Quarter off limits, and a bathroom requirement that would make trucks seek permission for their customers to use a restroom within within 300 feet of their truck. The current proposal also prohibits trucks from residentially zoned neighborhoods, "which would ban trucks from serving in front of some neighborhood bars and near the Loyola and Tulane campuses," the statement reads.
The food truck alliance also warned of an amendment to the proposed ordinance that would require trucks to carry GPS devices.
City Council is expected to vote on the proposed ordinance at its regular meeting tomorrow.