Our View: Food-truck survey should fuel action
After months in the slow lane, the push for changing a food-truck ordinance in Rochester should start gaining speed.
A survey launched in November has shown overwhelming support for loosening regulations on food trucks in Rochester. With 78.6 percent of the nearly 1,900 people who completed the three-month online survey showing the highest level of support for allowing food trucks downtown, it would be hard to deny public interest.
The next step is in the Rochester City Council's hands. Last summer, Council President Randy Staver indicated a willingness to look at options. "I am not opposed to diverse businesses nor food trucks, but I am looking for reasonable suggestions for changes to our ordinance that will satisfy the most number of people," he posted online last year as part of a social media discussion.
While the survey results indicate a strong desire to bring more food trucks to town, it's not time to buy a truck and hang up a menu board just yet. The same numbers show less conviction on factors regarding whether trucks should pay fees similar to brick-and-mortar restaurants in the downtown district or if they should be allowed free access to public parks and neighborhoods.
Comments left with some surveys also reveal a mix of proposed changes. "I can see both sides of this debate but am more apt to side of no trucks," one participant wrote. "We should be visiting the local businesses downtown that pay and operate under the current guidelines."
Yet, others opposed what they see as a potential monopoly for downtown restaurants.
That split is why discussions should start as soon as possible. There may be overwhelming support for relaxing the current regulations, but what that looks like will continue to require conversations about when and where trucks can operate and how they are regulated, as well as what it will cost to hang up a mobile menu.
The city council should seek to make a decision before warm temperatures arrive. That way potential food-truck operators can fuel their vehicles and fire up their grills.