Open Forum

Food Trucks in Public Spaces

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The issue on the table – should we allow food trucks to set up in public spaces downtown?

Questions to Consider

  • Food trucks can set up on private property downtown already. Do we need to expand that to public spaces too?
  • What benefits do food trucks bring to downtown?
  • What kind of rules / permits do we need in place around this?
  • City businesses pay city (and county) property taxes. What’s the fee equivalent for a mobile business like a food truck?
  • Should we limit the hours/days food trucks set up in public spaces?
  • What else should we consider that we aren’t talking about right now?

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13 comments on “Food Trucks in Public Spaces

  1. I personally thing that our city is totally missing the boat on this. Food truck rallies are huge in areas around us, bringing revenue to not only the vendors but the entire town. Shops around will benefit, the community revenue goes up, tax dollars grow. The issue is , when you close off the square, that would be the idea place to have one of these, then several of the local business owners on the square feel like that revenue is being taken away from them. The way I see it, is that there is way more people that will come and buy from local shops and such than without. Until whom ever is sorta over this type of event let’s it happen, not just once but a few times possibly thru the summer, there is really no way to say if it will be a success or not. But one thing is for sure, if you don’t try to do something different you cant ever expect a different outcome.

  2. Jennie Roles-Walter

    Statistically food trucks do bring revenue and patrons to where they setup; they are a draw for all generations especially those that like to challenge their palette but have no means to travel outside of our area to do so and young generations flock to events with food trucks;I am an advocate for this.

    This is also a business opportunity for many people who don’t have the means or time to run full time restaurants and I support dreams and ambitions such as these and the extra revenue created for families and local tax revenue for our town.

    The title of this forum is “food trucks in public spaces” however, I feel the largest debate surrounding food trucks is whether or not they should be allowed on the square.

    My thoughts on this: Yes but limit to 1 time a month at an agreed upon time that coordinates with Main St/Chamber events. Why once a month? 1.We do have brick and mortar restaurants on the square and while competition is healthy and GOOD food trucks simply do not have the same vested interest as these businesses on the square but perhaps one day after succeeding at such monthly food rallies they will. 2. Main St./Chamber should collect taxes via a check and form at the end of each monthly food truck event made out to the city along with a $25 to $50 setup fee to help with advertising for events held by both groups. I am an artist and setup professionally in HSV at functions and am expected to do this. It only makes sense and it makes those participating more vested.

    • The “public spaces” vs “square” language was something I went back and forth on. I settled on “public spaces” in the end since the city ordinances cover all publicly owned locations in the city. I recently ran into this when trying to find out the rules for food trucks parking on public streets next to a church that was inside the city limits.

      Love the setup fee! That makes a ton of sense for this.

    • Susan Graham

      I agree Jennie. I love the idea of a monthly event including food trucks on the square. I enjoy having the option for different foods, but at the same time understand about the businesses on the square. This seems like a great compromise.

      • Jennie Roles-Walter

        To encourage traffic flow it would be great to station the food trucks all around the square as well and not just on the interior of the courthouse during warmer months at least and have the farmers market and artisans join in on the same monthly nights……..themed monthly events like what the Merchant’s group has been trying to do that give everyone “something” to come for but all should pay a fee and taxes at the end of the night to help with advertisement of each event and if it grew, money for upgrades to the buildings on the square, preferably for upgrades that help protect buildings structures and not just facades as some are on in rough and dangerous states.

  3. Absolutely! Fayetteville, Lincoln County, needs the food diversity, and local recognition, which would help draw others to this community, to shop, build, or expand, in other areas.

    Yes, i think they should be publicly used.

    I think the best way to answer most of the remaining questions would be to look at surrounding areas, and make comparisons as to what rules, fees, and hours are generally acceptable. Personally, I think within normal business hours would be great.

    As for other thoughts or suggestions, I would reach out to food truck owners, local and in bigger communities, and ask what they think or recommend.

  4. Matt & Alexis Floyd

    As a food truck owner, I obviously love the idea of allowing food trucks to set up in public places downtown as it gives our food truck more versatility on where we can go and broadens the amount of people who can try our food. I also am all for making sure the proper rules and regulations are put into place to even the playing field for the downtown businesses as well. For example, as mentioned in a previous comment, allowing food trucks to set up only once a month is a fantastic idea. This avoids over saturation of the “food truck vibe”, while not threatening brick and mortar restaurants. I would also like to see a rule that prevents food trucks from setting up directly in front of any restaurant on the square, for what I hope are obvious reasons. In addition, scattering the trucks around the square, opposed to having them in a cluster, would help encourage patrons to explore the different shops.
    When it comes to taxes and fees, I like the idea of implementing a set up fee that ranges in the $25 – $50 range is both appropriate and very common from what we have experienced with different vendor fees thus far, however any more than that would potentially discourage many food trucks from setting up.
    As for taxes, I do believe any food truck that does not currently pay city taxes should do so in some form or fashion (whether that be a flat rate or sales based). Our business, for example, currently pays city and county taxes to Lincoln County which means we are contributing to the city both when we are selling in Lincoln County as well as in many other counties we set up in. In short, we have found in many cases we are paying taxes to Lincoln County even when we are set up in surrounding counties. A concern of asking food trucks to pay separate taxes to whatever specific country they set up in addition to a vendor fee is that this practice has not been common in our experiences thus far while setting up in Tennessee. The idea of a food truck having to file separate taxes when setting up in different counties is asking for A LOT of additional paperwork and filing and I believe it would deter food trucks from wanting to set up in Lincoln County since there are many counties (including all of the counties that we have currently set up in) that do not require this.

  5. Jennie Roles-Walter

    Here are two links that I found of interest that could be modeled. The first is a link to new ordinances put in place by the City of MBoro for food trucks. Of course ours wouldn’t be exactly like it but similar views to what many of us have stated here are included.

    The second is an application to an event in HSV with a vendor application. Most vendor applications have generic wording regarding sales:

    Sales
    Arts Huntsville does not take a commission on artist sales. Artists will transact their own sales and will comply with all sales tax regulations. Necessary tax information and paperwork will be provided to artists in pre-show packets at check-in. Artists are not permitted to create or sell items branded with the Monte Sano Art Festival logo, name, dates, etc.

    The last 3 downtown HSV events I participated in on their square I just had to fill out a simple form and write them a check at the end of the night. It was very simple.

    If you have a local business license I wouldn’t think it would matter but if you didn’t, like you said, that sales tax would go back to the food truck’s home state/location and not stay here in LC.

    https://www.murfreesborotn.gov/DocumentCenter/View/4410/32—16-O-32-Food-Trucks?bidId=

    https://www.zapplication.org/event-info.php?ID=7297

  6. Jennie Roles-Walter

    And let me lament a bit more…all of this adds to the importance of a secured property on the square that could house public restroom facilities and the Chamber and Main Street.

    When you have an influx of people for an extended amount of time restrooms are needed and if you want families to attend these events and shop more often you need to provide this simple necessity not to mention handicapped people needing a place to relieve themselves as well.

    A welcoming center on the square that may be used on weekends excluding Sunday’s unless a festival is taking place that is aesthetically pleasing, with knowledgeable people that can provide information about our town to visitors is a huge plus!

  7. Megan Cothern

    Absolutely! I agree with a once a month event and the fees (within reason) that some have mentioned. I almost feel like there is a missed opportunity for them to catch patrons coming and going from the movies at night on the weekends, among other things. More importantly I just wanted to share that food trucks tend to serve our communities in more ways than filling our stomachs. They tend to draw people out and they liven things up a bit. People get to talking and sharing more ideas etc. They really do benefit our community. I have such wonderful experiences with food trucks in other parts of the country that I am excited to see Fayetteville benefit from it. If I could make a suggestion to the food truck owners that may say this here, maybe organize bi weekly or monthly nights at the farmers market area if you’re allowed there from Spring to Fall because the tables there would be great to utilize for some Al Fresco dining.

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