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Maplewood Councilman Raises Food Truck Concerns

Councilman Barry Greenberg, who represents the ward that includes Maplewood's downtown business district, looks at various issues surrounding the food truck debate.

Maplewood Ward 3 Councilman, business owner and resident Barry Greenberg submitted the following on Thursday in response to the recent in Maplewood.

There are many issues to consider here. On the plus side, it adds to the eclectic fabric of the community. It might offer some food choices not currently available from existing restaurants.

On the down side, food trucks can cause traffic problems not only from the trucks themselves, but motorists trying to get a parking space close by. There are few viable options for open areas that can be designated for parking food trucks.

There are safety concerns for food truck patrons crossing the street. If they are not located downtown, they are encouraging people to get in their cars to get something to eat, while Maplewood is encouraging its residents to take advantage and enhance its status as a walkable community.

Food trucks can also have a negative economic effect on existing restaurants. Diners come to Maplewood because of the concentration of eating choices within an area of three or so blocks on the Manchester corridor and on Sutton Boulevard.

As a destination, this also benefits the adjacent retailers that rely on pedestrian traffic for sales. Brick and mortar restaurants currently pay sales tax and they pay a Special Business District tax that helps the city provide free parking and other services to the area in which they are located. By locating the food trucks at a distance from the restaurants, they could affect in a negative manner, they would be drawing shoppers away from the central business district.

I am not sure how mobile food trucks are regulated with regard to health department requirements. There are no bathrooms, they are not generally ADA compliant and they generate food packaging trash which must be dealt with also. If they must idle their motor to generate electricity for operation, they would be creating air pollution.

I would be inclined to allow food trucks based primarily on their acceptance by the existing restaurant owners and retailers in downtown Maplewood. If they feel that there is more benefit than threat to their businesses, we can find a way to address the other issues.

Rebecca D. March 09, 2012 at 05:30 PM
I was recently down in Austin, TX and was so impressed by the eclectic set of food truck "plazas" (for lack of a better word). Basically, they took a small area (think the sutton bus loop greenspace) and allowed food trucks to rent the space permanently (or for a long-term lease) and then the middle part was set up with picnic tables and umbrellas. It was a destination for us as tourists and it was also nice for a big group to all be able to eat at different trucks but still sit together. I would love to see Maplewood do something interesting like that to bring MORE people to the area rather than taking away the current restaurants' clientele.
Nancy Miner March 09, 2012 at 06:09 PM
I don't know if the technology is there, but requiring electric trucks that could plug in would eliminate some of the noise and polution. Charging fees for maintenance of restroom and trash pickup in sutton bus loop could defray the cost.
jc March 12, 2012 at 05:29 AM
To quote this article: "I am not sure how mobile food trucks are regulated with regard to health department requirements. There are no bathrooms." My brother owns one of these food trucks, and there IS a sink with running hot water! Employees wash their hands frequently and wear gloves.
jesus zimmerman March 17, 2012 at 06:07 PM
never believe any businessman that says competition is a good thing, they want monopolies and our politicians will give it to them every time they're pressed.
John Bante March 18, 2012 at 11:05 AM
Food trucks can cause traffic problems; welcome to the real world, urban living involves traffic. Food truck patrons crossing the street: OMG…The thought of someone walking into traffic! Well, again, welcome to urban living, pedestrians and cars do get along somehow. Food trucks can also have a negative economic effect on existing restaurants; welcome to the world of free enterprise. New restaurants are threats to restaurants. Gotta new and better idea? Keep it to yourself…at least in Maplewood. Brick and mortar restaurants currently pay sales tax and they pay a Special Business District tax; now we’re getting to the truth. Payola. [I’m] not sure how mobile food trucks are regulated with regard to health department requirements. How’s the kitchen in your house regulated? People can see what’s going on with these trucks and can make choices. There are no bathrooms; no need for bathrooms Barry, its food on the go, and we all know that. They are not generally ADA compliant; there is nothing in the ADA regarding food trucks, if there is it’s a stretch, besides there are ADA compliant restaurants to go to. They generate food packaging trash which must be dealt with also; okay, like the regular trash doesn’t? It is the cities job to take care of the trash. If they must idle their motor to generate electricity for operation, they would be creating air pollution; just too stupid to comment on.

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