Food trucks are coming … but they are creeping toward downtown very, very slowly
I applaud the City Council for reluctantly allowing food trucks to operate in the downtown area this week, but I am still surprised that the process is taking so long. In our free martket society, are we not supposed to love competition and not to have to rely on the government to protect businesses against competition?
While I believe competition is good for everyone in the downtown area of selling goods and services, the main reason I have endorsed food trucks being permitted in the downtown area is that it’s what the people demand. We live in a democracy, so when the people speak we must listen. Our democracy is at a crossroads and now is the time to change the business as usual approach. I will not follow the opinions and fears of big business, but I will base all my decisions on what the people want. In the end, if you give the people what they want, then businesses will flourish and more and more jobs will be created. This is a win-win situation for everyone.
Since this week’s vote was a narrow 4-3 victory for food trucks, the issue is still alive as City Council will have to make final approval on a second reading in a couple weeks. The question now is will the opponents listen to the people and make the decision unanimous. Will Jan Davis side with the people? Will Mayor Bellamy and Cecil Bothwell switch their votes? We will have to wait and see.
Downtown is my favorite place of my beloved city, and I have volunteered with the Asheville Downtown Association over the past four years – mostly assisting with the monthly summer series, Downtown After Five – so I know that there were a multitude of opinions at play in the decision. It is after all what our democracy is all about.
So why should Asheville jump on board of the Food Truck craze that is sweeping the nation? The first reason is that the people of Asheville want it. So if the people want it, we must find a fair way to make it happen. I believe this first step is one in the right direction for everyone that works, plays and visits our downtown.
Food trucks are already in much larger cities like Austin, New York and Los Angeles and of course our nemesis, Portland. I would argue that the process has been way to slow in coming and it still must be approved by the City Council. I urge the current Council to get this in play sooner than later. If it hasn’t been decided by the time I am sworn in, I will make it a priority to push to get this matter resolved and to get food trucks roaming downtown.
Some of the guidelines that must be included in permitting food trucks in the downtown area is keeping them free of invasive corporate chains. We must do our part to make sure McDonald’s isn’t cruising into downtown with a food truck and that can be done by the permit process.
The competition will be good for downtown and give those that work there a cheaper option since many of those people can’t afford $10 for a meal at lunchtime.
Obviously one of the crucial questions is where will the food trucks be parked. We don’t have space to allow them to take up parking spaces in an already crowded downtown. But, we do have ample privately-owned lots that can be used for the food trucks – with the owners and food truck operators having rental space agreements.
Another point that I support is food trucks being allowed to operate after 10 p.m. From first-hand experience, the food choices late at night in downtown are very limited and the food trucks could fill that void for our citizens and visitors.
In today’s market, we must evolve and adapt to the changing times and changing demands of the people. Today, it’s the food trucks and they are coming to downtown.