It's taken years, but Atlanta's food trucks may soon be allowed to sell their pizza slices, smoked barbecue pork, decadent cupcakes on the city's streets. And South Downtown would be the first to welcome the mobile food chariots in the not-so-distant future.
A new City Hall ordinance would launch a pilot program that permits food trucks operate on public property in select spots near what's considered "Government Walk" - the general area where local, state, and federal employees spend their days. If the trial run gains enough traction, it may pave the way for food trucks to set up shop throughout the entire city.
The proposal would let operators park their vehicles in designated spots - they'd still have to feed the meter, of course - at varying hours between 7 a.m. and 10 p.m. (exact times would vary based on the uses of surrounding buildings).
For starters, 18 designated locations on several streets would be available to vendors on a first come, first serve basis each day. The trucks could occupy two back-to-back parking spaces on Central Avenue, Mitchell Street, Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Trinity Avenue, and Pryor Street:
-Four metered parking spaces (two Food Trucks) on the west side of Central Avenue between Trinity Ave and Mitchell Street.
-Six metered parking spaces (three Food Trucks) on the south side of Mitchell Street between Central Avenue and Washington Street.
-Six metered parking spaces (three Food Trucks) on the north side of Mitchell Street between Central Avenue and Washington Street.
-Four metered parking spaces (two Food Trucks) on the south side of Mitchell Street between Pryor Street and Central Avenue.
-Four metered parking spaces (two Food Trucks) on the south side of Martin Luther King Jr[.] Drive between Washington Street and Central Avenue.
-Six metered parking spaces (three Food Trucks) on the west side of Pryor Street between Martin Luther King Jr[.] Drive and Mitchell Street. Food Trucks utilizing these spaces shall be subject to the posted rush hour parking restrictions.
-Four metered parking spaces (two Food Trucks) on the east side of Pryor Street between Mitchell Street and Trinity Avenue.
-Two metered parking spaces (one Food Truck) on the north side of Trinity Street between Central Avenue and Washington Street. Any Food Truck utilizing this space shall be subject to the posted rush hour parking restrictions.
The new law will likely make life easier for food truck vendors, says Greg Smith, president of the Atlanta Street Food Coalition. He says the ordinance is a "good place to start" as the city and coalition try to expand food truck access across the entire city. The streamlined permitting process eliminates much of the "time consuming and painful" elements that have long hindered food truck vendors. Operators will still have to pass Fulton County Department of Health and Wellness' health inspections, should the city's ordinance move forward.
"It was difficult to be a food truck vendor in Atlanta," Atlanta City Councilwoman Yolanda Adrean tells CL. "It's a wonderful business model that's very popular and gives people options. It gives restaurants a chance to test food to expand their models."
The food truck expansion ordinance, which requires vending to happen at least 200 feet away from brick-and-mortar restaurants, sailed through Council's Public Safety Committee earlier this week with a 6-1 vote. Councilman Kwanza Hall called the ordinance a "step in the right direction." Councilman Michael Julian Bond urged for the citywide expansion to happen "as quickly as possible."
On the other hand, Councilman C.T. Martin, who cast a vote against the measure, told CL after the meeting that he still had lingering questions and needed more time to understand how the process works. He expressed concerns about the preferential treatment food truck vendors might now be receiving compared to traditional street vendors near Five Points, Woodruff Park, and Turner Field.
"I didn't think that the [street] vendors were getting the same kind of respect that [food truck] vendors are getting," Martin says.
Council is expected to take up the matter on Monday during their full meeting. If passed, city officials says the pilot program could last between three and six months.
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