By Ken Silva | The Oberlin News Tribune
Mobile food trucks may give residents a new option for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as soon as this spring.
Oberlin’s economic development department is working on drafting a set of regulations that would allow the tasty treat vendors to come to town.
Economic development director Gary Boyle said he hopes to present the planning commission with a recommendation for accommodating the growing industry by February.
Right now, food trucks are banned from the city because there is no permitting process to allow them to do business.
Although they can apply for a conditional use permit, that would confine them to private property and limit them to one spot, which defeats the purpose of a mobile cart.
Items the city is concerned with before allowing food trucks to come include how they will affect local brick-and-mortar businesses as well as how they will impact parking.
Planning commission member Tony Scott also raised concerns about the implications of allowing mobile vendors to come to down. He asked whether that would imply that other mobile vendors could come to town, such as people selling cell phones or other merchandise out of trailers and carts.
“The issue isn’t the food part as much as it is the mobile part,” he said.
Food truck laws have been discussed on and off ever since the city shut down a mobile cart operated by three Oberlin College students in September.
The college spent more than $10,000 setting up the cart — buying and renovating a trailer, obtaining fresh ingredients, and incorporating the brand name North Coast Toast — but only operated three times before being shut down while doing business on college property on Sept. 27.
Food trucks are a growing phenomenon throughout the country, with hundreds popping up in cities such as Los Angeles, Chicago, and Cleveland, creating hundreds of jobs and entrepreneurial opportunities for middle- and lower-class people in a sluggish economy.
Silverstein said he would like to set up shop again and serve the community if and when the city drafts regulations to allow him to operate.