Portland council loosens restrictions, reduces fees for food trucks

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PORTLAND — The City Council on Monday relaxed some food truck regulations that were adopted last year, but “misinterpreted” the intent of the task force that drafted them.

In July, City Manager Mark Rees wrote a letter to food truck operators, soliciting feedback on the rules.

Some complained that the rules banned food trucks from operating within 65 feet of each other – or any commercial kitchen – on the peninsula. Off the peninsula, that boundary grows to 200 feet. As a result, the food trucks couldn’t do business in “clusters,” which would attract greater foot traffic.

That, according to Councilor Ed Suslovic, was not the intent.

“We never wanted that. In fact, we wanted them to cluster,” said Suslovic, who chairs the Public Safety, Health and Human Services Committee, which brought the task force recommendations to the council.

Some operators also have been unhappy with the city’s fees: $105 in building and occupancy fees for trucks on private property, $200 for a night-time operation license, and $500 for a standard license. A reduced fee schedule now applies to the trucks.

“These changes reflect the intent of the task force,” Suslovic said. He added that the city may continue to fine-tune the regulations.

“Food truck operators would like the city to keep working on the issue,” he said.

He noted that the trucks might be allowed to set up for lunch near Lincoln Park, where there is no restaurant or take-out eatery nearby. Currently, food trucks are permitted in only a handful of parks and downtown streets, along with industrial off-peninsula locations during the day.

In addition, the ordinance revised by a unanimous council vote now allows a slightly larger size of food trucks to operate, and permits them to park on city streets for more than two hours.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.