El Paso, Tx: City Eases Restrictions On Mobile Food Vendors

City Rep. Beto O'Rourke

By  Celina Avila | ABC-7

City Rep. Beto O'Rourke

EL PASO, Texas — Food vendors got a big win on Tuesday when El Paso City Council repealed some of the restrictions imposed on them.

The Drifter, owned by Ian Atkins, is usually parked on Mesa and Executive for the lunch crowd. Regulations set in 2009 have made it difficult for his new business.

“It was really hard to find a spot to park,”Atkins said.

Atkins said he’s worked closely with City Rep. Beto O’Rourke to refresh city rules concerning food truck vendors.”

A lot of the rules weren’t addressed clearly, there was a lot of gray area leaving us food carts to be just pushed around,” said Atkins.

City Council decided on Tuesday to stop making it illegal for vendors to operate within 1,000 feet of a restaurant or convenience store and keeping vendors from stopping to wait for customers.

Three months ago, some El Paso mobile food vendors teamed up with the Institute for Justice to file a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging the restrictions.

Customers didn’t seem to mind strong winds as they waited for their meals outside the Drifter on Tuesday.

They said they’re glad the city’s rules have been relaxed because they enjoy the convenience and restaurant-quality food.

“It’s very close to work and we can just pick it up and take it back to the office,” said Rosie Oaxaca.”

I think it should be open market, be able to park and serve good food,” said Marco Rodriguez.

And just in time for Saturday’s Neon Desert Music Festival, food vendors will save $80 in temporary licenses.

“People who own their year permits that we’ve paid over $500 for … it used to be that they charged you another $80 permit and they finally did away with that,” said Atkins.