Food Trucks

Food trucks line streets in Downtown Louisville. (WDRB Photo)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Metro Council didn't bite Thursday night on a plan to regulate "itinerant vendors" like food trucks.

Council could have voted on the plan in the meeting but instead chose to boot the plan back to committee because of a whole list of concerns and questions.

"I think these are common sense changes," Metro Councilman Brandon Coan (D-District 8) said.

"I also question whether the ordinance really accomplishes what we set out to address," Councilman Markus Winkler (D-District 17) added.

Leah Stewart and her Louisville Food Truck Association have protested the push for regulations for months. The current plan wouldn't corral trucks into specific vending zones, but it would spell out where trucks can store fuel, how noisy they can be and how many spots a vendor can reserve on each city block, among other changes.

Stewart said her group thinks it might have other unintended consequences too, which is why she's happy it's headed back to committee to be reworked.

"We're thrilled," she said. "This is the outcome we wanted, actually."

She said she's committed to help with that process and said her group won't obstruct any change that makes sense. But she and her allies still think the push to regulate is a solution in search of a problem.

"We're taking some of our revenue across the river where they don't give us these issues," said Craig Boutiette, a fellow food truck owner. "Bye, Louisville."

The vendors point to what they consider troubling emails they've uncovered through a records request. They say the emails show council members like Barbara Sexton Smith (D-District 4) push to regulate food trucks to "level the playing field" between the trucks and brick and mortar restaurants.

"I think they show that one or two particular council persons have been unduly influenced by restaurants to craft legislation specifically to hurt food trucks," Stewart said.

Smith disagrees with that allegation and said the ordinance is about safety and fairness.

"And unfortunately, the emotional arguments are prevailing and winning the day, so to speak, over a fact-based conversation," she said.

Council members who booted the measure back to committee said they're committed to helping sponsors fix the ordinance. Food truck operators say they're committed to helping council find a happy medium too. However, a source close to council says council has made multiple attempts to have those operators at the table, but they haven't shown up on some occasions.

There's no word yet on when council will take up the issue again.

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