Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Every next big thing has a next big flip side

There is a lot of buzz in the mainstream media and local social media about food trucks. They are today's latest rage. While food trucks are fun and novel (for those who've never noshed at a roach coach), they also have unintended consequences for neighborhoods that require some forethought toward regulations. For instance, should food truck owners be held responsible for litter that their customers throw down? Should a food truck be allowed to blare Tijuana Taxi for hours straight? Can a food truck set up shop anywhere on or off the street? What obligations does the vendor have to protect public health?

Real life concerns may be a buzz-kill on food truck fun, but these are important issues to people who live in the vicinity of these good times. Jump to a draft of the regulations Metro Traffic and Parking is considering for mobile vendors.

1 comment:

  1. That food truck phenomenon is great for a couple of reasons.

    One, it's all about entrepreneurs creating a business and providing jobs and opportunity. Two, it's an indigenous and cultural extension of the people who live here. (It reflects the character of the our city).

    My worry on regulation, is that those framing it will be constrained by a box. This "box" would be not understanding the factors behind the success of the the food truck phenomenon.

    Food trucks are an "off the grid," approach to food. So, before the regulations are set, it's necessary that those making the rules dig a little deeper before deciding what is "right."

    For instance, I read that a 2:00 a.m. cut-off for the food trucks was going to be proposed. Why?

    Nashville bars and clubs close at 3:00 a.m. This means, that during the weekdays and particularly the weekends, people are out and about till 3:00 (then making their way home or to a party).

    That 2:00 a.m. cut-off for food trucks makes no sense.

    One thing that makes Nashville different from other cities (and a reason that it is a destination for tourists) is that it's a party town. Our bars are open late, we have live music until 2:30 a.m. and there is just something of a "good time" in the air. (Our party town tradition goes back to prohibition, and arguably the Civil War, by the way).

    For the past 20 years or so, there have been some folks who have somehow decided that the Wild West aspect of Nashville needs to be tamed down. It started years ago, when the poker machine industry was shut down. Though this was gambling (and a bit under the table), it had plenty of supporters (the folks who plunked down quarters).

    (Now we have state-sponsored gambling in the form of a lottery.)

    A few years after our poker fun went away, former council-person Chris Ferrell (now head of SouthComm which owns the Scene and City Paper) and current council-person at large, Ronnie Steine sponsored the "three foot rule" for Nashville strip joints.

    They claimed their motivation was to cut down on illicit dealings like prostitution. Though, I think this was more a part of the "clean up Nashville" campaign that the Chamber of Commerce and certain "upstanding" citizens were pushing for (as well as the developers knowing a property-owner making great rent off a strip club like Ken's Gold Club would be forced to sell once "Ken" left town after the patrons quit visiting the business).

    (BTWI believe this same type of thinking is behind Dean's efforts to get rid of the fairgrounds and raceway.)

    Basically, it's a group of "self-appointed" folk who think they know what's "better for Nashville," pushing through their agenda.

    Back to the food-truck regulation:

    If Nashvillians, drunk and stoned or sober, wanna stuff their mouths with fish tacos at 4:00 a.m., then LET them.

    It's something we like to do, as well as the tourists and visitors who come here to party.

    I'm tired of the Metro Council members who don't appreciate our city and people for what it is.

    They have been slowly picking away at and destroying the soul of our city for years.