After months of debating and revising proposals, the New Orleans City Council last week passed a food truck ordinance that would increase the availability of permits and allow 75 more food trucks in the city. Following a monthslong drive by council President Stacy Head, the council voted 6-1 to approve the draft-in-progress ordinance.
Councilmembers argued over several last-minute amendments to the proposed ordinance, including two concerning food truck access to bathrooms. "This has been the concern not just of (the Louisiana Restaurant Association). This came from my public health people — not from the city, but from my access to a whole arena of public health people," Councilwoman Jackie Clarkson said, adding she received guidance from "people who have been engaged in public health my whole life."
Another bathroom-related amendment also passed, though with several sub-amendments. Clarkson proposed that food truck vendors have written permission to use the bathroom from a business within 300 feet of where a food truck parks, though council members agreed that a truck can be exempt if it can "demonstrate" there is no bathroom (e.g. in an underserved neighborhood). Clarkson introduced an amendment requiring trucks to carry keys to businesses with bathrooms, but she scrapped it.
Other approved amendments include a rule prohibiting trucks from operating in front of a "residential structure" (as opposed to an entire residential zoned neighborhood, which would have excluded vendors from operating in front of neighborhood bars that regularly invite trucks). Trucks also must display their permit number. A proximity requirement also passed, preventing trucks from operating within 200 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant, unless trucks have a written waiver from the restaurant.
Councilwoman Cynthia Hedge-Morrell was the sole nay vote. The new ordinance will take effect Jan. 1, 2014. — Alex Woodward