New Orleans City Council President Stacy Head presented her proposed food truck ordinance to the council's Economic Development Committee last week, but she will revise the measure "to accommodate the loudest voices" in opposition before a final vote, she said.
J.T. Lane, assistant secretary of the state Department of Health and Hospitals, wrote council members about the DHH's "future enhancements" to retail food regulation — including mobile vending. "Our office will continue to inspect all food establishments and enforce the state's sanitary code, regardless of business model," Lane wrote.
"It seems to me he's saying don't use their desire to do a better job for all food service providers as a subterfuge for slowing down or stopping regulatory changes made in the city of New Orleans," Head said.
New Orleans Food Truck Coalition attorney Andrew Legrand said one of the coalition's main opponents is the Louisiana Restaurant Association (LRA), which Legrand said is running a "fear-based campaign" about health and safety as a smokescreen against its real objection: possible competition from mobile vendors.
Paul Rotner, president of the New Orleans chapter of the LRA, said the organization does not oppose food trucks "conceptually" but argued for consistent health and tax rules for trucks and "brick and mortar" restaurants.
Head's latest proposal would increase the mobile vendor permit cap from 100 to 200, and expand the allotted time a vendor can stay in one place from 45 minutes to four hours. It also would allow food trucks to operate 50 feet from restaurants. Current law prohibits them from parking anywhere inside the French Quarter, CBD and Warehouse District, but Head proposes expanding the permitted spaces to include the area bounded by Canal Street, South Rampart Street, Poydras Street and the Mississippi River. That would add much of the CBD to the trucks' permitted region, which currently includes parts of Treme and the new Biomedical District. — Alex Woodward