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Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Orleans opens new food truck permit process

Posted By on Thu, Jan 2, 2014 at 5:00 PM

A food truck gathering in 2012

Food truck permit registration is now through the city's "one-stop shop" for business permits and licenses (but not available online). There are 100 mobile food vendor permits available, thanks to legislation that passed last July allowing for trucks and fewer operating restrictions.

New Orleans City Council vice president Stacy Head kicked off food truck legislation discussions last year. After a lengthy back-and-forth with food truck advocates, City Council members, the Louisiana Restaurant Association, and even the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals, City Council reluctantly passed a heavily revised ordinance in April, only for it to be vetoed by Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Landrieu vetoed the measure for what he called potential "Equal Protection concerns," presumably because of the proximity requirements imposed on trucks near brick-and-mortar restaurants.

The new ordinance lifts the proximity requirements and extends the time food trucks can operate. (The former law capped it at 45 minutes and prevented trucks from operating within 600 feet of restaurants and schools.) The ordinance also opens 100 permits, which are issued annually and expire at the end of the year. Renewal applications are due January 31. The initial mobile vending application fee is $50 (non-refundable), an approved permit is $400, an occupational license is $150, and a sales tax deposit is $50.

The ordinance also introduced "franchise " permitting — not as in operating multiple trucks with multiple owners (like a food truck McDonald's), but as in requiring additional fees and approval to operate trucks in fixed locations where trucks are prohibited, like the Central Business District and Marigny. The franchise application fee is $175.

Head wrote in a statement, "I believe that food trucks are an excellent small business model, they can contribute to community development and commercial corridor revitalization (as evidenced by Freret Street and O.C. Haley Boulevard), they can provide healthy and delicious food options in areas of our city that are considered food deserts, and they can even deter crime by creating more walkable communities."

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