Head introduces new mobile food vendor ordinance after Landrieu veto

A day after Mayor Mitch Landrieu vetoed a sweeping ordinance that would have relaxed the rules that govern food trucks in the city, Council Vice President Stacy Head introduced new legislation that would only increase by 75 the number of permits for any mobile food vendors.

The council is expected to vote at its May 16 meeting on whether to override the mayor’s veto of Head’s previous ordinance. In case it does not, Head’s new ordinance would be in place as a backup designed to allow additional mobile food vendors to legally operate in the city.

“I am disappointed that the mayor has vetoed the food truck ordinance, but I await his suggested improvements as he promised he would provide in his veto statement,” Head wrote in a prepared statement.

In his veto letter, Landrieu said he had concerns about the constitutionality of the ordinance the council passed, 6-1, on April 18.

“It would be unwise to sign this ordinance into law in its current form when it appears certain that it will be invalidated by the court,” Landrieu wrote, adding that he has told his staff to “immediately” address the issue.

Among other things, the vetoed ordinance sought to allow food trucks to operate in one spot for up to four hours, expand the areas where they can operate in the Central Business District and require them to have access to restrooms that would be near where they are parked.

The ordinance also would have reduced the distance at which a truck must park from a regular restaurant. Right now, city law prohibits them from being closer than 600 feet to a restaurant. The ordinance the council recently passed reduced that distance to 200 feet, but there were questions during debate on the matter about whether the distance requirement was constitutional. That aspect appeared to be at the heart of Landrieu’s veto.

The ordinance Landrieu vetoed also would have created a year-long pilot program to grant 75 new permits to food trucks. Head’s new ordinance only seeks to increase the number of permits to 75 and sets no limits on the type of vendors that could get them, meaning anyone from a fruit vendor to a Lucky Dog vendor would be eligible. There also is no time frame on the permits in the new ordinance.

Head said that she thought the ordinance Landrieu vetoed “was a thoughtful compromise position that supported the regulated growth of the food truck industry, and I do not agree with the rationale for the veto.”

She said the new ordinance “concedes to the mayor’s desire to maintain the status quo while a complete rewrite of the law is accomplished.”

“While I believe the series of amendments that the council passed was preferable, in a pragmatic effort to move forward, I have submitted this alternative,” Head said.