News Release: City of Lincoln Should Remove Barriers to Food Trucks
City of Lincoln Should Remove Barriers to Food Trucks. New, Innovative Businesses Can Offer Jobs & Revenue.
LINCOLN, NE (June 15, 2016) – Sometimes when a government budget isn’t balancing, the only obvious options are either cutting spending or raising taxes. But in the City of Lincoln, where elected officials may be looking at a $3.3 million budget shortfall, they only need to look to their neighbors in Omaha to see how being more welcoming to at least one type of new business can pay dividends.
In this week’s #PlatteChat column, Platte Institute CEO Jim Vokal writes about the very different approaches the two cities have taken for incorporating food trucks into their local business communities. The column is now available at PlatteInstitute.org. #PlatteChat may be republished with attribution to the original author.
“Despite the rapid growth of the food truck industry nationally, Lincoln’s current ordinances prohibit these vendors from setting up shop in public parking spaces, and that has left the food truck scene in Lincoln in bad shape,” Vokal writes.
Some estimates suggest Omaha has nearly 100 food trucks operating around the city, while only a handful exist in Lincoln, where the mobile food vendors are banned from operating in public parking spaces.
Food trucks in Omaha also collect the 1.5 percent city sales tax. That revenue source came in at $4.2 million over projections in the 2015 fiscal year.
The Platte Institute recently highlighted Lincoln’s barriers to food truck operators in a new video featuring Luke French, a banquet hall owner from Malcolm who gave up on his food truck business after the city would not update its parking ordinance. The video has received nearly 40,000 views on Facebook, YouTube, and PlatteInstitute.org.
“From additional tax revenue, to job creation, and greater choices for diners, Lincoln has much to gain from embracing food truck freedom. The city council and Mayor Beutler can send a strong message about their own priorities by welcoming these innovative businesses as equal members of the community,” Vokal writes.
Here’s more about the Platte Institute’s take on Lincoln’s burdensome food truck regulation:
- The City of Lincoln should take immediate action to allow food trucks to operate in the city’s public parking areas, with no limitations based on their proximity to competing restaurants.
- Food trucks are actually a big plus for the existing food scene in Lincoln and other cities. Food truck-friendly cities like Austin and Los Angeles also have thriving brick-and-mortar restaurants, and some restaurants even become food truck operators to share their brand with more customers.
- Regulation should only be used to protect public interests that affect us all, like health and safety. Using regulation to protect existing businesses from competition is against the principles of free enterprise and deprives consumers of more choices and workers of economic opportunities.
- Cities and states that foster an environment for economic growth and investment will see more long-term benefits for their budget from the creation of taxpaying business and growing tax bases than they will from imposing higher tax rates.
- So, which rules should apply to food trucks? The same rules for health and safety that generally apply to restaurants, and rules you would expect for safely parking a vehicle in the city, or blocking vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
The Platte Institute for Economic Research advances policies that remove barriers to growth and opportunity in Nebraska. To learn more about our research, view our recent articles, or subscribe to our weekly #PlatteChat column.