Hitching on change: Kyle contemplates alterations to food truck ordinance

By Moses Leos III

Changes could be forthcoming to Kyle’s ordinance regulating food truck trailers as city officials look to open opportunity for the niche business.

The idea of changing the city’s in-place Peddler Ordinance came after council member Diane Hervol brought possible changes during a May meeting.

Hervol said the current ordinance is “restrictive” and a “little redundant.”

During public comment on May 3, Brandon Alarcon, owner of Donut 911 in Kyle, advocated for changes to allow food trucks. He said food trucks allow business owners to build their business model up.

Under the current ordinance, temporary food vendors cannot be located within 150 feet of another vendor on the same lot, nor can vendors operate within 150 feet from a residential property.

In addition, temporary food vendors cannot remain on a particular piece of property for more than a nine-month period.

Kyle Mayor Todd Webster believes the original ordinance was a “regulatory effort” to protect businesses from “a truck parked outside selling the same thing.” He referenced those who sell food from pickup trucks.

“It’s real rigid,” Webster said. “It’s regulating one type of peddling, but we’ve seen a development of a different kind. It’s not fitting what’s happening. It’s something that needs to be corrected.”

Howard Koontz, Community Development Director in Kyle, said the city’s changes to the peddler ordinance are in their “infancy.” He said the city is doing a “fair amount of research” and gathering data from neighboring communities.

While the changes are a work in progress, he said there could be “significant changes” to the ordinance when it’s completed.

But Koontz said there was a level of uncertainty when it comes to food trucks and how it affects a community. He said there isn’t much data on how it could “affect certain communities.”

“There’re a lot of folks who own a business, a brick and mortar, they are interested in the way [food trucks]are administered and what the effect will be,” Koontz said. “There’s a lot of interest and curiosity, but there are also more questions than answers.”

Koontz said the temporary aspect of a food truck vendor is a benefit and a detriment at the same time. Other challenges include the possibility of it becoming too popular, Koontz said.

“Like with any temporary or special use, if it becomes too popular, it’s then seen as a nuisance to surrounding property owners and stakeholders,” Koontz said.

Placing food trucks in the downtown sector could be a focus. Webster said one business owner in the downtown area has an area on the square that could be utilized for potential food trucks.

Hervol said improving the ordinance, especially taking out the distance requirement, could improve the ability for food vendors to “enhance our downtown.”

“There are several areas of the downtown sector that can actually be labeled as a food court,” Hervol said. “The ability to have different types of food in the downtown sector.”

She said the increased foot traffic in the downtown area could lead to an “honest opportunity for everyone.”

Webster, who said he was going to “take personal interest” in drafting ordinance changes, said ensuring food trucks are a “value add” to the community is important. He said balancing potential food trucks with the in-place businesses was key.

Webster said if a food court idea were to move forward on the square, it could tie in with improvements to City Square Park.  

“It’s making sure it’s done well and becomes nice,” Webster said. “My interest is to bring additional traffic (to downtown) so all commercial business comes to the area.”

 

Food Truck Industry Statistics for 2015

Annual food truck revenue: $1,200,000,000

Industry revenue increase over the past five years: 12.4 %

Total number of food trucks in U.S.: 4,130

Average revenue generated per food truck: $290,556

Average spending per order at a food truck: $12.40

Average cost of food truck: $85,000

Average total startup cost: $90,300

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