Southwest Ohio city considers ban on food trucks operating in same location consistently

Under current law, food trucks only need to be mobile at least every 40 days.

Norwood City Council is considering whether to adopt an ordinance that effectively bans food trucks from consistently operating in the same location.

The ordinance was read for the first of three times at a recent meeting.

“No Mobile Food Truck … shall be permitted to conduct business or commercially operate on any private or public lot or property,” a section of the new ordinance reads. “The normal function of the food truck service shall instead be directed and permitted to operate on a public or private street in accordance to separate business licensing.”

The ordinance would allow mobile food trucks on private property for events “during a specific defined period, only if approved and authorized in writing by the City’s Safety Service Director.”

If passed, the food trucks that consistently operate from the same spots around Norwood would be banned.

Under current law, food trucks only need to be mobile at least every 40 days.

“I don’t know that that’s really acceptable either,” Mayor Victor Schneider said in a phone interview. “It’s not that the city of Norwood is against mobile food trucks. The city of Norwood is against mobile food trucks becoming restaurants and putting down basically roots in areas where they make a very minimal investment.

“We want for these entrepreneurs to grab a brick-and-mortar spot and build on their success,” Schneider said, adding there are multiple restaurant vacancies in the city.

The mayor said he knows mobile food trucks are “providing good food” and “people love it,” but he said it’s not fair to restaurants that they do not have to meet all the same requirements. The ordinance specifically mentions creating a “level playing field” between food trucks and brick-and-mortar cafes.

Ty Vélez, owner of the food truck AJ’s Cheesesteaks, said the reasoning behind the ordinance is frustrating.

“This is a private entity,” he said. “I don’t understand for the life of me why the city feels that they need to dictate how private businesses run their businesses.”

The food truck has rented space from the BP Gas Station on Montgomery Road for five years. Velez said, at the time, it was known for prostitution, homelessness and panhandling.

“Since we’ve been here, we put a stop to that,” Velez said.

Next door, Taqueria Martinez food truck has been under new management for only three months. Owner Maria Martinez, a longtime employee turned owner, is scared, according to her daughter.

“She hasn’t even been here for that long,” Briana Miranda Martinez said. “Not everyone has access to being able to go to different places.”

The Norwood food truck owners are now coming together. They plan to appear in front of the city council on Tuesday.

Velez said they will ask for the status quo to continue: “Allow us to continue to run our businesses the way we’ve been running them with no incident with no problems with nothing but good, honest, hard-working people.”

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