Downtown food-truck ordinance gets the go-ahead from Public Safety Committee

Asheville’s food-truck debate took another step toward a resolution today, Aug. 16, when the Public Safefy Committee meeting met to discuss and passed unanimously a draft ordinance regulating the mobile businesses downtown. Food trucks are already allowed in other section of Asheville outside of downtown.

The unabashed reportage below comes from outspoken volunteer “citizen journalist” Michael F. Muller, who covered the meeting via Twitter on his iPhone. Muller is also campaign manager for City Council member and Committee Chair Bill Russell.

• Speaking of vaginas, I’m headed with @BlueRidgeBilly to the Public Safety Committee meeting at the Municipal Building.

• On Today’s Agenda: Food Trucks

• The meeting starts at 3:30, and the only people here are @timothypeck, City Attorney Bob Oast…
• … @brownienewman, @cecilbothwell, and @BlueRidgeBilly, who happens to chair this important committee. Where is the press?

• No one from the public wants to speak. How very odd.

• Was Dwight Butner kidnapped by @GQCstreetfood? I guess we’ll never know!

• City Staff talking about zoning and enforcement. Snoresville!

• If you do, bring some food! [in reply to @VeggieLoveAVL, who tweeted: @michaelfmuller @timothypeck hmm? I didn’t know about this meeting, should I be there?]

• I figured there would be at least some good street food served here. What better way to lobby City Council on the food trucks?

• Talking about possibility of prollems with noise from generators.

• Must be within 60 decibel range, which us about the level if rumblings coming from my stomach right now.

• Talking about the preference of using electrical hookups vs. Generators.

• A nice looking lady wearing a cool hat just walked in.

• If you’re caught, you’re gonna get whacked.—Vice Mayor Brownie Newman, speaking of enforcement penalties.

• You can get cans of Coke up here for 50 cents! That’s quite a deal.

• Talking about trash collection now. Vendors are supposed to provide receptacles. Bob Oast stammered something. I couldn’t quite understand.

• There will be a limit of 10 permits issued in the CDB [Commercial Business District] for mobile food trucks to start with.

• Permits will be awarded First Come, First Served.

• In my experience, it’s usually the other way around.

• Jeezus all this talk about food is making me hungry.

• Everyone on the audience looks bored, except for @timothypeck. He’s actually paying attention.

• So @BlueRidgeBilly has his Serious Guy look on his face. But I’ll bet he’s thinking about Pizza.

• So @brownienewman raises the question of outsiders coming to AVL with foodtrucks. Staff thinks it unlikely, given cost/rate of return.

• So @ChantalSaunders now speaking—- she’s a downtown restaurant owner. Claims she’s already seen out-of-town food trucks downtown.

• Where is this “West Asheville” people keep talking about?

• Downtown and non-downtown permits will be issued, CBD permits take some extra hoops to jump through.

• Staff considering separate permit for the site AND a permit for the vendor.

• So @brownienewman makes a motion that says the way forward is sound, without taking a stand on specific points.

• Motion passes unanimously. Now goes to Council for a vote on the 23rd of this month.

• Representative of the AFD now talking about fuel-supply planning. I’m watching episode 5 of “The Borgias.” yfrog.com/h2ryqpdzj

• Correction: @ChantalSaunders has not seen out-of-town vendors downtown, but in this West Asheville place.

• You City Council candidates sure you want this job? These Committee meetings are extremely boring.

• That’s my understanding. Permits issued to prop owners & vendors. [in reply to @itswendylou who tweeted: word on requiring the landowners to have a permit as well?]

• So @cecilbothwell just pointed out that municiplaties cannot buy local when it comes to City fuel (for the city fleet) due to state law.

• So I’ve just sent a message to @BlueRidgeBilly on my iPhone using the ever-so handy Banner App that read PIZZA & BEER PLEASE.

• He tried not to crack up. No one saw it but him and @brownienewman because I’m sitting in the back of the room.

• Where are The Other City Council candidates, by the way? Do they not care for Public Safety? I guess they don’t.

• If we had a Busker or two here I’ll bet @mxnews would have showed up. Or maybe if they were serving monkey brain hors d’oeuvres or something

• Or maybe if @Cecilbothwell and @brownienewman had an impromptu fashion show here in the training room then I’ll bet they’d show up.

• The only ones left at this Committee meeting now are the the City Council members, City Staff, Charlie Hume, and me.

• The Committee of Public Safety has now adjourned. #mercidieu

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19 thoughts on “Downtown food-truck ordinance gets the go-ahead from Public Safety Committee

  1. The regulation was reviewed by the Public Safety Committee today (Brownie Newman, Cecil Bothwell, Bill Russell, Charlie Hume). They were satisfied with the enforcement solutions (the only concern coming out of P&Z) and unanimously approved of the regulation with the addition that unpermitted vending will be considered a Class III criminal misdemeanor. Fines could amount to $500. Third violation could result in 3 months jail time. Bothwell favored full recovery permitting fees which would force good vendors to pay for bad vendors. There is still a cap of 10 on vendors downtown. Still no cap on restaurants downtown.
    …………………….

  2. Food trucks aren’t restaurants. The city is well within its rights to limit the number of trucks that can park in the city limits and sell food.

    Restaurants aren’t going to just magically appear overnight in a brand new building.

  3. bill smith

    [b]Restaurants aren’t going to just magically appear overnight in a brand new building. [/b]

    If all goes well, in Libertartianville, they will!

  4. slycos

    timpeck, thank you for your report. I could have saved myself some time had I seen your comment before reading this thing.

    Twitter is for people who love to hear themselves talk.

  5. Barry Summers

    Twitter is for people who love to hear themselves talk.

    Twitter is also apparently for at least one campaign manager who refers to his candidate as a “vagina”.

  6. Barry Summers

    To be fair, I just realized Michael may have been referring to Brownie Newman and/or Cecil Bothwell as “vaginas”.

    Or heck, maybe that’s his pet name for the Municipal Building, I don’t know…

  7. Barry Summers

    I made a suggestion over on scroo-hoo about a small solar power grid but I don’t think it was taken up by anyone over there.

    I saw that, & it’s basically a good idea. I guess my thinking on it runs aground on these points:

    Where does the startup money come from?

    Do you require food vendors to utilize it, and would you charge them?

    Given the small amount of energy used, over short periods of time, can this become cost effective?

    Many of the type of spots usable for food trucks are likely to be transitory – temporarily taking advantage of construction zones, or only desirable during certain times of the year, etc., making permanent hook-ups problematic…

    Sorry, I don’t mean to just shoot holes in it – as soon as I read it, I pictured how cool it would be.

    Anyway, can’t think about that now. Gotta get to the bottom of this ‘other’ thing.

  8. [b]Where does the startup money come from?[/b]

    I’ve heard rumors of rumors of monies available for all manner of “green” projects. I’d imagine that’s a possibility.

    [b]Do you require food vendors to utilize it, and would you charge them?[/b]

    I’m not sure it would have to be required, although “heavily encouraged and/or rewarded” would be nice.

    [b]Given the small amount of energy used, over short periods of time, can this become cost effective?[/b]

    There are other ways to utilize a grid like this – think of how much energy is sunk into, say, Bele Chere each year…

    [b]Many of the type of spots usable for food trucks are likely to be transitory – temporarily taking advantage of construction zones, or only desirable during certain times of the year, etc., making permanent hook-ups problematic…[/b]

    Well, that’s why there’d need to be some mix of permanent installation and flexible installation. I’m certainly no engineer but I think that if people are concerned about generators/noise/etc, then it might be something to look at.

    In the meantime, there’s no reason to think that there aren’t tons of other uses for a public solar energy grid.

    Just seems that Asheville would be an excellent place to test this. Who knows? A start-up in Asheville could go on to get contracts in other cities for installations….

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