Councilman Smokie Bourgeois, an elected Metro Councilmember for District 12 in East Baton Rouge Parish who is also the owner of several brick-and-mortar (B&M) restaurants in Baton Rouge, has proposed an ordinance that seeks to regulate the movement of food trucks in East Baton Rouge Parish.
Food trucks have become a vibrant component of the Baton Rouge culture and the entrepreneurial spirit that has helped catapult our city into the national conversation for start-ups and innovation (see 225 Magazine's "Start 'em up" article, http://225batonrouge.com/news/2012/mar/01/start-me/).
Don't think food trucks have played a part in this growth? Think again, and set aside the next couple of hours for some quality reading time...
... and the list goes on. And on. And on.
Already, many have begun writing their Metro Council representative to voice their support for food trucks and their stance against this pointless and redundant regulation that many believe will, in fact, lead to further regulations that are both unnecessary and unwarranted, including:
What are these regulations designed to do?
A) Requires food truck owners to have written permission to park at private businesses after business hours.
B) Follow ordinary traffic rules, including not parking too close to a fire hydrant and not opening the serving window to the traveling public.
As far as "A" is concerned, a local blogger couldn't have said it better...
"Currently, the Code of Ordinances of the City of Baton Rouge, Title 11, Chapter 28, Section 11:416 and 11:438 (one for the city, the other for the Parish) prohibits vehicles from being parked “[u]pon privately owned property without the prior authorization and consent of the owner thereof.” The law is already on the books, why is there a need to add the additional caveat of securing this permission in writing and why does it only apply to food trucks?"
For "B", is it really good business for these trucks (which are both relatively new businesses AND exist in a relatively new industry) to open their windows to oncoming traffic and cause their soon-to-be customers to be put in harm's way?
The answer is no.
Many are accurately protesting these regulations not because they aren't necessary, but because THEY ALREADY EXIST in some form or fashion. And food trucks are all wise to already follow them as not playing by these rules would just be bad business - plain and simple.
Because they already exist, it would seem as though this is regulation for the sake of regulation. The question all food truck lovers, owners/operators and their families, food truck employees, and all who support a thriving Baton Rouge small business environment should be asking themselves is "what's next?".
The "what's next" part of the equation is what has everyone up in arms. Regulation for regulation's sake can attempt to regulate consumer choice, and starts us down a very slippery slope for further and unnecessary regulations.
Is it a conflict of interest for a council member who also owns several businesses in a competing industry to propose that he/she then affect regulations upon that industry as a whole? Is there any basis for these regulations? Proof that the regulations in question have been driven by anything of substance or the current rules under which food trucks operate have been widely abused?
We support the food trucks - they provide great food at an affordable price, they are our friends, a part of our community, and a part of what makes Baton Rouge a more enjoyable and better place to live. If you regulate just for the sake of regulation, then what has our governing body turned into?
By signing this petition, you are encouraging your Baton Rouge Metro Council to vote AGAINST Councilman Bourgeois' proposal to regulate food trucks, which comes up for a vote Wednesday, April 11th, at 4pm in the Metro Council chambers (located inside City Hall, 222 St. Louis Street).
"Like" the food trucks? Voice your love for them by signing this petition!