Raleigh discussing pilot program for more food truck freedom

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The City of Raleigh is working on a plan that would allow food trucks to park on select public streets.

City Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin said certain streets would be designated for food trucks.

“They would need a permit for the space and there would be some type of fee associated with it,” she said.

But, most of the details are still being worked out.

The new plan was sparked by a request from a business owner at Tuesday night’s Law and Public Safety Committee meeting. The current city ordinances pertaining to food trucks were put in the books in 2011.

City council members agreed it was time to give them a fresh look.

“I think there was a lot of fear about how food trucks would impact Raleigh stand-alone restaurants and things like that. What we’ve seen is that fear has lessened and that it’s worked out really well,” said Baldwin.

Many members of the Raleigh community have been advocating for food trucks recently, including Generation Opportunity, a group that advocates on behalf of millennials.

Field Director Alex Johnson said allowing food trucks in more areas around the city will not only create more choices for consumers, but more jobs as well.

“It also provides a jobs aspect. You think of every food truck there’s at least four people per food truck that you’re creating a job for,” said Johnson.

City staff members are working with community groups like Downtown Raleigh Alliance and the new RDU Mobile Food Association to determine which areas would benefit from food trucks parking on public streets.

Baldwin said they want to be very open with the idea so that they can address any issues that residents or restaurant owners might have.

“There’s conversation going on as the planning takes place. What we don’t want to have happen is people be surprised by this and then all of a sudden kind of throw a grenade in the plan. What we want to do is really involved people and make sure all voices are heard,” said Baldwin.

Both Baldwin and Johnson said the growth of the Raleigh food truck community is a good sign of Raleigh’s growth as a city.

“You’re seeing people start to band together and see this great new enterprise that’s been created across the country and here in Raleigh especially,” said Johnson.

“I think what food trucks really do is they help build a sense of community. So when they’re in a neighborhood or at a brewery or someplace where people are gathering, it’s that sense of community,” said Baldwin.

Any ideas that city staff come up with will be presented to the Law and Public Safety Committee at their Nov. 10 meeting. A pilot program will be recommended to the full City Council the following week.

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