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June 1, 2011

New liberal rules for Baltimore food trucks

In a just-issued press release, Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake says, “Baltimore’s food trucks are a unique extension of our diverse local restaurant industry. We must ensure that existing operations are able to thrive and new food truck ventures are encouraged to start”

“I’m very pleased that we are able to create this new pilot initiative, working in cooperation with food truck vendors,” she added.

Apparently, she means it.

At today's meeting of the Baltimore City Food Vendors Board, new rules for Baltimore's fledgling fleet of food trucks were announced. Food truck vendors are now allowed to vend from any valid parking location in Baltimore City, as long as they adhere to existing parking regulations.

Food trucks will no longer be prohibited from parking within 300 feet of a retail establishment that sells "similar merchandise." Instead, common sense and courtesy toward retail establishments will apparently be the only restriction on the truck vendors' movements. 

In addition, the City will create five Pilot Food Truck Zones, which will operate from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Signage marking the new food zones will be installed over the next several days.

The five zones are:

1) the 500 block of St. Paul Place and St. Paul St., on the east side of the street. (One space at each location for a total of 2 trucks)

2) The 1900 block of E. Monument St. on the south side of the street (One truck)

3) 500 block of W. Baltimore St. on the south side of the street. (One truck at this location.)

4) 300 block of S. Charles St. on the west side of the street. (One truck at this location.)

5) 500 block of E. Fayette on the north side of the street. (Three trucks at this location.)

The truck vendors were pleased at the turn of events.

The new rules were arrived at in meetings over the past few weeks between the newly formed truck vendors association and representatives from the city. 

"I couldn't be more pleased with the effort that deputy mayor Kaliope Parthemos put and food vendors board chair Alvin O. Gillard put into making this happen, said Patrick Russell, the owner of the Chowhound Burger Wagon, which is generally acknowledged to be the pace car in Baltimore's food truck fleet. "I believe they're really in favor of business in the city."  

"I'm shocked and thrilled," said Irene Smith, owner of the Souper Freak, whose misadventures with the Street Vendors Board precipitated the Mayor's announcement of a grace period to bring food trucks into regulatory compliance. The mayor also announced the assignment of a Mayor Fellow to the food truck issue. Tis summer a Mayoral fellow will "review all statutes, rules, regulations, and fees currently related to ALL street vending.

It's not entirely clear how the new pilot zones will operate, whether on a first arrive, first occupy basis, or b a pre-arranged schedule. There does appear to be a great deal of collegiality among the first generation of food truck vendors, who have just formed a truck vendors association. Presumably, the truck vendors will be able to police both the pilot zones as well as agree to handshake on general rules of fairness regarding bricks-and-mortar establishments. 

It is also not clear whether newly arriving truck vendors will have to join the truck vendors association.

"We might come across some snags," Russell said. "We want to coordinate with the city so we don't trample on each other. The more that we work together, the more the city will be willing to work with us.

All vendor licenses expire at the end of this year.

Posted by Richard Gorelick at 2:53 PM | | Comments (15)


Wait, I'm a little confused... why make zones at all if they're allowed to vend from any parking space? There are plenty of legal spaces downtown outside these zones, so aren't the zones just mere suggestions?

no one else can park in the pilot zones. it guarantees a space a vendor a space. or, it guarantees at least one, or three, vendors a space. whether it operates first come, first occupy, or by some other method is unclear.

This looks great, but checking the locations makes me a little skeptical of the motivation: seems to me that the mayor just wants the food trucks to visit City Hall!

how about restrictions on operating hours in residentual neighbohoods. Ice cream trucks are out till 11pm in my community, and we wonder why kids are getting so heavy.

I also feel venders on wheels should pay a fee to operate, since they are paying no property tax.

they pay $375 for their new street vendors license in addition to the other licenses they have to carry

Good news for those that work in the city... still waiting for the trucks to come out to BWI / Linthicum :(

Is there any way a neighborhood can replace a really annoying ice cream truck with a truck that vends healthier food options and doesn't operate with music?

ab- some of the ice cream trucks are not selling solely ice cream at 11PM.....they are selling drugs.

@ Anonymous,

I do believe a few probably do sell drugs. I have seen a couple turn of their music and drive away with prostitutes. I'm not kidding either.

Also, With heat like it's been the past few days, do you think they are frying your food in oil from a bottle or from their body? ewwww.

There are drugs being sold out of ice cream trucks? What songs do those trucks play?

See, that's what happens when there isn't any NFL football being played.

This is great! I'm three blocks from one of the zones. Glad they changed course on this one.

Stephanie Rawlings-Blake brought me chocolate cake when I was in the hospital this summer. Too bad it was just a post-anesthesia hallucination. Still, I think she likes her food.

So, out of the five zones that have been marked and the eight trucks, a day that will be many vendors in the city are we talking about? Doesn't seem fair to me.

I'm not sure what you mean. But the trucks don't have to operate out of one of the new zones.

We don't need no stinkin' trucks. Stop by the Owl Meat Grilled Cheesery in Little Italy. I will be on High St. when the temperature is over 90°. Look for the little red wagon. The only sun-cooked grilled cheese sidewalk grille in town.

From the owners of Sushi Canoe™

Please send trucks to the State Office Building complex on Preston and Eutaw Streets! How about a different truck each day of the week? We desperately need better and healthier food offerings in the area.

Nicky7, have you been to Land of Kush over on Eutaw? I had a rather nice lunch there. Vegan soul food if you can believe that...

Volker, that's impossible.

We all know vegans have no soul.

I kid, I kid.

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About this blog

You are reading the archives. For updated blog posts about the Maryland food scene, see Richard Gorelick's new Baltimore Diner blog.
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

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