Traverse City, FL: T.C. Commission Heads Toward Less-Restrictive Rules For Food Trucks

File photo/Candice Ludlow.

By Linda Stephen |

File photo/Candice Ludlow.
File photo/Candice Ludlow.

Traverse City Commissioners unanimously voted in support of new regulations for food trucks and other mobile food vendors at their meeting last night. Commissioners called it a compromise plan that would allow mobile vendors in parts of the downtown, near Munson Medical Center, some schools and parks.

But both commissioners and members of the public remain polarized over where food trucks should go and what hours they should be allowed to operate.

Nick McAllister, who owns the restaurant House of Doggs, says mobile food vendors would wreck his business.

“I put my business in that position, gambled on that spot, followed all the rules that it took to take that spot knowing someone could move in next to me. But I had no idea that this would happen. If I did, I probably wouldn’t have done what I did,” he says.

McAllister says Traverse City doesn’t have enough workers downtown for brick-and-mortar businesses to compete with mobile venders who have a lower cost of doing business.

But vendors say it’s they only way most young people can start a business. They were glad the new regulations would do away with daily fees many found cost prohibitive last year. Instead, vendors would pay an annual fee of up to $1,225 dollars. Some food truck owners called the fees reasonable, though higher than they are in many towns.

Brian Welburn, a vender with King Wubbs Pita Dubs, also asked the commission to let his truck sell downtown to the late night bar crowds.

“If you’re going to restrict the times from 10:00 in the morning until 12:00 at night, then maybe you should restrict the times that restaurants can open up,” he said during public comment.

In the end, commissioners informally agreed on times food trucks should be allowed to operate: 7:00 am until 11:00 pm in commercial districts, and 9:00 am to 9:00 pm in residential areas, and only in specified areas would they be allowed. Commissioners also consider this a one season test that they expect to re-evaluate in the fall. Commissioners will have to vote again before changes are final.