Food trucks (mostly) prevail; some prohibitions remain | Durham County | Indy Week
Pin It

Food trucks (mostly) prevail; some prohibitions remain 

City Council Chambers was packed Monday night with food truck vendors, patrons and Durham officials for a meeting about the proposed Mobile Vending Provisions.

Photo by D.L. Anderson

City Council Chambers was packed Monday night with food truck vendors, patrons and Durham officials for a meeting about the proposed Mobile Vending Provisions.

It is safe for barbecue, pizza and ice cream to return to Durham Central Park.

Durham city planners have reworked some of the proposed amendments to the Mobile Vending Provisions ordinance in order to relax rules on food trucks. Grace Smith, planning supervisor for the Durham City-County Planning Department, delivered the news Monday night to a crowd of Triangle residents, food truck vendors and several city officials, including Mayor Bill Bell and City Councilmen Steve Schewel and Mike Woodard. (Schewel is president of Carolina Independent Publications, which owns the Independent Weekly.)

After meeting with representatives from several city government departments, the planning department abolished the rule prohibiting mobile vendors from parking within the Durham Central Park Zone during the farmers market, which operates Wednesdays and Saturdays. Additionally, administrators reduced the required distance that mobile vendors may park from brick-and-mortar restaurants from 100 feet to 50 feet.

"A lot of the code is staying the same, but we're trying to make it less restrictive," Smith said. "Durham is very unique and one size just doesn't fit all."

Several people expressed relief over the relaxed rules but still found problems with some clauses in the ordinance. A common complaint is that food trucks are still prohibited in exclusionary zones, within 50 feet from restaurant entrances and 300 feet from permitted special events in the Durham Central Park Zone.

"Exclusionary zones blur the zone between private and public property," said Nick Hawthorne-Johnson, co-founder of The Cookery. "[They] create two classes of restaurants in the eye of the law, and then discriminate against one."

Durham resident Matt Davis called the rules "overly prohibitive."

"I'd like to have the choice as a citizen to determine who's where by spending my dollars. I think some of these restrictions eliminate my ability to choose."

Other attendees said the ordinance would impose unnecessary regulations on food trucks and would harm innovation and entrepreneurship in Durham's food culture. This has become a cornerstone of Durham's identity and distinguishes it from cities like Chapel Hill and Raleigh, which have imposed stricter rules on mobile vendors.

"Why is not OK for a food truck to be 10 feet from the door of a restaurant?" asked Durham resident Scott Harmon. "I just haven't heard a good reason why to have that in the ordinance yet. We're in danger of messing with Durham's brand here."

Although much of the meeting was dedicated to the changes Smith announced, she also noted that several parts of the ordinance remain intact. Mobile food vendors can't occupy more than one parking spot and are required to provide trash receptacles and to leave safe paths for pedestrians. The Finance Department will continue collecting required business taxes from mobile vendors. The Planning Department will oversee the vendors' compliance with the rules, with assistance, if necessary, by the Durham Police Department.

The proposed changes still do not affect private property.

Smith also said that the proposed ordinance may change more based on feedback from community members, restaurant owners and food truck vendors. Durham City Council must vote on any proposed changes.

"I think it's an important conversation that had to happen," said Becky Cascio, co-owner of Pie Pushers. "I think getting a hold on how we all feel and putting us as food trucks in the position to work with the farmers market and to work with Durham Central Park [is important], and we might not have done that on our own, or not yet."

In addition to community members, several city officials expressed support for mobile vendors.

"I too want to keep our unique food culture going," Woodard said. "The key word here is conversation. We don't want to over-regulate. We don't want to run people out. We want to make it better and keep Durham the unique community that it is."

Comments

Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

 
Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-1 of 1

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Durham County



Twitter Activity

Comments

Sounds like vigilantism to me. But at least it should take any supporter out of consideration for Steve Schewel's seat. …

by MJKopechne on Will the Felony Charges Against Defend Durham Demonstrators Be Dropped? (Durham County)

People's tribunal?

by John Trololo on Will the Felony Charges Against Defend Durham Demonstrators Be Dropped? (Durham County)

Most Recent Comments

Sounds like vigilantism to me. But at least it should take any supporter out of consideration for Steve Schewel's seat. …

by MJKopechne on Will the Felony Charges Against Defend Durham Demonstrators Be Dropped? (Durham County)

People's tribunal?

by John Trololo on Will the Felony Charges Against Defend Durham Demonstrators Be Dropped? (Durham County)

White supremacists call this progress, the klan would be proud of black families being pushed out of durham.

by lamer99 on For Two Decades, Durham’s East End Neighborhood Hosted Horseshoe Matches With No Complaints. Then the Developers Came. (Durham County)

What happens with respect to Councilwoman Cole-McFadden? Would she be able to vote, or is it the newly elected council …

by arrbeejay on What Happens to Steve Schewel’s Council Seat if He Becomes Mayor? (Durham County)

Durham and Duke need to finally follow Chapel Hill/UNC's lead and offer fare-free service for all.

by walty on With Duke University Pulling Its Funding, What’s the Future of the Bull City Connector? (Durham County)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation