In October, Pittsburgh city council member Bill Peduto introduced legislation that would remove restrictions on mobile vending that stifle food trucks. Designed to protect brick-and-mortar businesses from competition, Pittsburgh's current regime is one of the most restrictive in the nation.
Food trucks are currently prohibited from parking in one spot for more than 30 minutes, in metered spaces (making most of the downtown area off limits), and within 500 feet of a restaurant. Moreover, zoning officials can veto parking on private property, even if the owner welcomes food trucks.
Via the Pittsburgh City Paper:
At any given point in time, I'm sure no matter what we're doing, someone can tell us we're not allowed to be doing it," says Tim Tobitsch, co-owner of the Franktuary Truck, a pioneer in the local food-truck industry that has sold gourmet hot dogs for about two years.
Tobitsch and the owners of six other food trucks have joined together to form the Pittsburgh Mobile Food Coalition, which is pushing for the legislative change. And, unlike in other cities, some brick-and-mortar establishments are on board.
The owners of Bar Marco, a cocktail bar in the Strip District, invite food trucks to their parking lot for “Food Truck Fridays,” for instance. Acclaimed restaurateur Brian Pekarcik, who operates a food truck as well as traditional restaurants, has presented city council members with a petition from owners of sit-down restaurants who think that reform would energize Pittsburgh’s food scene, benefiting not only consumers and mobile vendors, but also restaurants themselves.
The bill would eliminate the proximity rule, allow food trucks to park in metered spots, and permit them to stay in one spot for up to four hours. Further, it would extend business hours on weekends past closing time for bars. The city council is expected to act on the measure before the end of the year.
Courtesy of the Institute for Justice,* a libertarian public interest law firm that advocates against overly burdensome regulation of food trucks, here are some food truck owners offering their take on the state of the law:
*Disclosure: I am a former employee of the Institute for Justice.