Terrorist Attacks, Drugs and Danger: Why City Council Doesn't Want Food Trucks Downtown
From big-name Houston industry persons such as Chris Shepherd and Bobby Heugel to public figures such as Rice University lecturer Bernard Freeman, also known as rapper Bun B, there was an outpouring of support for food trucks at the hearing, but that support seemed to fall on deaf ears.
Houston rapper and Rice University lecturer Bun B addressed the Council in support of food trucks.
The Council similarly refused to consider the points of view brought by organizations such as the Downtown District (which is in support of food trucks) or Urban Harvest. In one particularly bizarre digression -- one of many that stretched the hearing out for hours -- Council Member Wanda Adams attempted to accuse Urban Harvest of not running a "real" enough farmers market outside of City Hall.
But perhaps the most confusing statement of the day came from Burks, whose sole experience with food trucks seemed limited to a rather bucolic scene he witnessed in Washington D.C.:
Parking is at a premium downtown. It's not easy. Restaurants pay these dollars and cents to keep their doors open...but these food trucks are not regulated by anyone. We're talking about competition here -- there's no competition here. There's danger here. If it were competition and only competition, it wouldn't be dangerous. So what I'm saying is that I don't like this at all. I'll be outright with you: I'm not going to vote for it. I went to Washington D.C. in March this year and saw food trucks lined up and hundreds of people were lined up inside the park buying their food. And the trucks were not even the same. It looked like one raggedy truck and one nice truck and another raggedy, small truck. Is this what we want in downtown Houston? Is this the way we want our city to look? Is this the way we want to see our city at baseball games or at sporting events? Is this what we want to make our city look like?
Burks long comment prompted a chorus of "Yes!" to ring out from the audience, at which point I was sure that the Council was going to start kicking people out. Mercifully, it was the last outburst of the day.
Photo by Andrew Bossi Yet another example of the terrible events that could occur should Houston allow food trucks downtown, as witnessed in this shocking photo from D.C.
On the bright side, not all Council members seemed opposed to the decreased regulations. Mayor Pro-Tem Ed Gonzales was helpful and patient throughout, asking reasoned questions and attempting to steer comments back on track. And despite her farmers market issues, Adams seemed similarly open.
If you support allowing food trucks to operate downtown and in the Medical Center, if you support allowing food trucks to provide a few seats or if you support a free market that allows healthy competition and brings vibrancy and foot traffic to areas that need it, there are plenty of ways to make your voice heard.
One way to start is by attending this Sunday's mobile food truck rally at The Refinery (a downtown restaurant that encourages food trucks!) from 4 to 10 p.m. You can also by sign a petition in support of food truck growth or simply write your City Council member. Tell them yes -- this is what we want our city to look like.
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