News: CJ Exclusives

Food Trucks Finally Allowed in Raleigh

Restaurant “buffers” make most of downtown off-limits

Food trucks operators soon will be allowed to park on private property in a handful of locations throughout Raleigh. Downtown, however, mostly will remain off-limits.

The city council voted 6-2 in favor of the new food truck policy Tuesday. Thomas Crowder and the council’s only Republican, John Odom, voted against it.

The new food truck rules are as follows:

• No parking on public streets.
• Use of commercially zoned private parking lots only, with the owner’s permission.
• No parking in spaces set aside to fulfill the primary business’ minimum parking requirement.
• No food truck “rodeos” — informal arrangements at which several trucks occupy a shared space. No more than one truck per half acre, and no more than three trucks total, no matter how large the parking lot.
• No parking within 100 feet of a restaurant’s main entrance or outdoor dining area.
• No parking within 50 feet of a hot dog vendor.
• Food trucks located within 150 feet of the property line of a single-family home or a duplex must close by 10 p.m. Trucks in commercial or industrial areas must close by 3 a.m.

Before the vote, a member of city staff explained the practical effects of the ordinance to members of city council:

“For all intents and purposes, it would be extremely difficult to locate a food truck on Fayetteville Street or on Glenwood South,” the staffer said. “There a couple of side streets that might be available, dependent that the zoning is correct, the property owner provides permission, the food truck permits are issued and there is ample parking. So there are a number of different streams one must pass in order to receive a food truck permit. But by and large, the Glenwood South area and Fayetteville Street from Capital [Boulevard] down south would be largely tied up.”

The staff member displayed a map of downtown Raleigh with blue shading to indicate which areas would be off-limits to food trucks. Almost the entire map was shaded in blue.

Council member Russ Stephenson suggested disallowing food trucks near any residential area past 10 p.m. People in multiple-family homes (high rise apartments and condos) “need to sleep too,” he said.

“I think we’re moving too fast,” said Odom. “I don’t think the City of Raleigh is going to fall apart if we don’t have food trucks, and I’m not looking forward to looking like Durham.”

The ordinance becomes effective Oct. 1. Council agreed to revisit it in six months to evaluate its effect and make any changes.

Michael Stenke of Klausie’s Pizza, who’s been fighting to gain greater acceptance of food trucks in Raleigh for more than a year, is celebrating in advance of the new ordinance by reopening his truck for lunch on Hillsborough Street.

Sara Burrows is an associate editor of Carolina Journal.