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Food Truck Regulations Concern Owners

EDITORIAL Victoria Advocate, Texas.

America is heralded as the Land of Opportunity, where businesses can flourish and the free market reigns. Especially in small towns, small business owners are a vital part of the economy.

It's been proven time and time again that buying local can help sustain a town's economy over time. The Advocate has even done stories about how the city of Victoria is trying to revitalize its downtown businesses.

There's no doubt that Victoria's entrepreneurs are a key part of the community's economic success. But in order to contribute to the economy, these entrepreneurs must be given a way to succeed.

Recently, Boudreaux's food truck owner Kira Mundine-Galvan started a petition to allow food trucks to roam the streets of Victoria and set up shop while parked. Per city code, Mundine-Galvan currently is not allowed to roam freely and, instead, must have a fixed location while serving food. That fixed location must also have a restroom available for patrons.

Her petition currently has more than 700 signatures.

Victoria currently does not have a food truck park, and the regular food trucks that are city fixtures have worked out deals with the addresses they operate out of -- such as James Canter's Guerrilla Gourmet, which has a truck parked outside the Advocate's office and has a permanent set-up in our kitchen.

It would be helpful to have a streamlined process for food trucks, but that's not the case in Texas. Different cities have different codes; last year in Bridgeport, a food truck owner skirted a city code requiring him to move his truck every three hours by purchasing two adjoining tracts of land and moving the truck back and forth between the two tracts before taking the matter to city council. You have to be creative in order to own a food truck in Texas, it seems.

Victoria's environmental health advisor believes the trucks should be treated the same as restaurants with the same health code requirements. This is wrong. Yes, they should be held to the same health standards as restaurants, probably more so. But to hinder a food truck owner's ability to capitalize on the whole purpose of owning a food truck -- its mobility -- is hindering the city's economic prosperity as well.

The city either needs to look into allowing one section of land to be used for all food trucks permanently or allow them to roam freely. Trucks could park all around DeLeon Plaza at lunchtime for the lunch rush, bringing money to downtown businesses as a result. Or they could set up in Riverside Park, and grabbing a bite from Boudreaux's after going to the Texas Zoo could become a new family tradition. Or the truck owners could set up wherever they could find and move when they get tired of one spot.

Whatever the choice, the city needs to treat food trucks as a unique business. It might just help the city as a result. This opinion reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.

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