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Council to Consider New Regulation on Food Trucks

Tuesday, the Burnsville City Council will at last consider alterations to local ordinances to accommodate the proliferation of food trucks and other mobile retail.

What do Burnsville's city ordinances say about mobile cafes, like former Council Member Dan Gustafson's Wicked Palate? Not a whole lot, it turns out.

"City ordinances, as written, do not ideally address a mobile vendor like a food truck," Community Development Director Jenni Faulkner wrote in a memo to the council.  

Burnsville has specific regulation for transient vending, like an ice cream truck, or outdoor sales, for instance a Christmas tree lot that is open at the same place for weeks or months. Currently, however, city ordinances do not address vendors that straddle the line between ceaseless roving and a stationary existence. What little regulation exists is contradictory and inconsistent, Faulkner continued. 

After over six months of study, Faulkner will present her findings to the council on Tuesday for discussion. Here's some of what Faulkner recommends:

  • Ordinances should specify where and when food trucks and mobile vendors may locate in the right-of way. Staff would propose on-street parking locations that do not interfere with traffic or create a pedestrian safety issue and places that provide sitting and perhaps even restrooms for gathering.  
  • "Mobile vending" would be defined broadly to include both food trucks and "non-food items being sold out of a cart, vehicle or trailer."
  • The ordinances would detail performance standards, such as hours of operation, signage, and storage of trucks in the city.  
  • The ordinance would not require a certain amount of separation between trucks at parks or special events, a limit on the number of vendors, or regulation about having an existing brick and mortar in Burnsville.  
  • The amendments to city code would establish a reasonable annual fee.  

Last summer, food trucks were all the rage in Minneapolis and St. Paul, but had only begun to penetrate the south metro area. As of last year, there just three mobile food vendors licensed in Burnsville, and none have yet applied for renewals in 2013.  

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