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