By Ally Heath SYRACUSE, N.Y. (NCC News) – If you’ve walked around downtown recently, you’ve noticed it lacks something common to cities across the country: food trucks. The city only has one licensed truck, and it’s not for lack of available permits- there are over twenty available.
Food truck owners in Onondaga County have been reluctant to purchase permits in the past because of the $1,500 price tag and restrictions to parking locations. Syracuse City Councilor Michael Greene saw this as a problem for a developing downtown.
“I had been to other cities where food trucks were a big part of the culture. They were creating jobs, they were adding vibrancy to the neighborhoods,” Greene said. “We had one food truck in the entire city of 145,000 people operating in the right of way, so it was clear that the regulations that we had were not working successfully.”
So Greene proposed changing the ordinances that slashed permit costs by two-thirds, lowering the fee to $500, and designated general areas for trucks to park instead of the specific, guaranteed locations granted to food carts in town.
Other propositions include expanding the zones where food trucks can operate to include streets surrounding parks in the city and by the Syracuse University campus.
Members of the Syracuse Food Truck Association are encouraged by the proposed changes. PB & J’s Lunch Box owner Pat Orr said the changes were necessary to be able to sustain a business downtown, especially one that can only operate six months out of the year on average.
Other city council members were concerned the council was rushing to pass the changes to the ordinance. Councilor Susan Boyle proposed taking more time to go over the changes since food truck season is winding down with the temperature.
But Orr said the sooner trucks can get downtown, the more they can work together to boost business downtown. Orr and Lady Bug Lunch Box owner Pam Dwyer both noted that food truck events in the city have been very successful, bringing business to a wide range of trucks while driving tourism downtown.
“It’s not something to be afraid of,” Orr said. “It’s just a small business, you’re a small business trying to make a living and providing good food.”
Greene said he expects the proposed changes to be on the agenda during the City Council’s meeting on Monday.