The Raleigh City Council unanimously voted Tuesday to let food trucks operate curbside in four downtown areas during lunch hours.
A six-month pilot program will allow food trucks to operate in city-selected downtown parking spots between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. and until 8 p.m. on days when Raleigh hosts its monthly First Friday street fair.
Previously, food trucks could set up on private property but were not allowed to operate on public streets unless they were part of a special event like the downtown food truck rodeos.
Mobile food vendors are gaining popularity nationwide and folks in Raleigh have taken quite a liking to them. City Council members had delayed action on food trucks, saying they might cause too much noise downtown.
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Raleigh leaders decided to use a permitting process involving the parklet model. Property owners along the four designated areas would own the permit allowing food trucks. The property owners would be in charge of scheduling vendors to fill the marked parking spaces on their properties.
Selected trucks would be allowed to park in one of four areas downtown:
▪ South State Street, between New Bern Avenue and Hargett Street.
▪ Polk Street, between Blount and Wilmington streets.
▪ Bloodworth Street between East Martin and East Davie streets.
▪ The Warehouse district.
The Warehouse district is roughly defined by Hargett, West, Davie and Dawson streets.
The idea behind letting property owners manage the food truck schedule for a nearby spot is that it would be in their best interests to have variety in the rotation of trucks. And it’s likely they wouldn’t book vendors that are too noisy.
Food trucks must stay at least 100 feet from traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants.
The area on Hargett Street along Moore Square was removed from the list of proposed areas because of an ongoing transit project.
All permitting and enforcement will take place through the city planning department. In a motion to approve the plan, Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin proposed a three-strike rule, so that permits would be revoked after three citations.
The first citation would result in a $100 fine and the second a $500 fine.
Baldwin also included in her motion that truck operators provide hand-sanitizer dispensers.
The City Council will come back in six months and discuss any issues that come up during the pilot program.
Staff writer Paul A. Specht contributed to this report.