GUP Kitchen food truck

Mark Thornton (right) buys his lunch from GUP Kitchen co-owner Gabe Lovelace (left) and employee Austin Seyfert on in October 2012 at Eighth and M streets in this file photo.

Lincoln Journal Star file photo

No one likes the proposed food truck rules that would allow the city's half-dozen mobile restaurants to park at some downtown meters.

The Nebraska Restaurant Association doesn't want the city to budge on the current rule, which bans the trucks from parking on city streets.

The food truck vendors aren't happy with the plan, which requires more fees, more paperwork and gives them access to only a limited number of downtown metered slots.

So the proposal, outlined to the City Council on Monday, likely will stay in draft form, unpassed and unappreciated.

The plan would allow a food truck to park at designated metered spaces if the truck had paid a $50 annual occupation tax and a $25-per-employee fee, had $500,000 in liability insurance coverage and paid a $50 annual city permit and $10 per day for the metered spot.

But the designated parking spaces would have to be at least half a block from a restaurant to avoid unfair competition.

And a truck could park at a particular metered slot for only 24 hours -- to avoid one vendor hogging a choice spot.

A city committee, which spent the past year and a half on the rules, tried to be fair to restaurants, which pay property taxes and have greater fixed costs for their buildings, said Hallie Salem with the Department of Urban Development.  

The food trucks now operate on private property, generally parking lots of other businesses or fraternities.

They also are invited to provide food at city events, such as the summer parties at Union Plaza, which has a bank of electrical outlets for truck vendors.

The proposed truck vendor legislation is modeled after the city's sidewalk cart ordinance. 

It applies only to food trucks that want to park on public property, not to those that use private property, Assistant City Attorney Jeff Kirkpatrick said.

Two of the seven known truck vendors now have brick-and-mortar sites and at least one is getting out of the food truck business, Salem said. 

Only one vendor said he might fill out an application for the public parking permits, she said.

"If they pass something, that's fine, but if not, we're indifferent," said Minh Nguyen, owner of Heoya's, who was one of the original truck vendors seeking a change in the city ordinance.

The proposed rule requiring parking spots to be at least half a block from an existing restaurant doesn't leave many spots downtown, he said. "It's almost like, why even bother?" Nguyen said.

Food trucks already are inspected and pay fees -- an annual $410 temporary food establishment permit to the city and a state $65 one-time permit. Like restaurants, employees must must have food manager permits and food handler permits, according to Joyce Jensen with the Lincoln-Lancaster County Health Department. 

The proposal probably will not go to the City Council for discussion and action.

"It seems to me that without a push from the food truck vendors to go forward, I don't see any necessity for a change at this time," said Carl Eskridge, the council chairman. 

Reach Nancy Hicks at 402-473-7250 or nhicks@journalstar.com. Reporter Jordan Pascale contributed to this story.

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Nancy Hicks reports on Lincoln city government, but she’s been following the leaders of local and state government for more than 40 years.

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