Pricing out Food Trucks is Protectionism

BrianR's picture

I support environmental protection and the mitigation of global climate change. I do not believe that every business should be allowed to do what they what. But there are times when government is in the wrong and shouldn’t kowtow to existing businesses and their supporting organizations at the cost of new business. So to kick this post off I’m going to reclaim a bit of conservative rhetoric. Because it applies in this situation.

It should not be the job of the Town of Chapel Hill to pick which business succeeds and which fails. But this is what they are doing by aggressively regulating food trucks away from the streets of Chapel Hill. It’s called protectionism. The result of the Town of Chapel Hill food truck ordinance is protecting existing brick and motar businesses from competition with food trucks. This is accomplished by charging a fee that is unaffordable to food trucks. The fact that almost no food truck owners will pay the Town fee to provide services in our Town is evidence of that.

Our Town isn’t the only one doing this. The City of Durham is considering making more restrictive rules as well. For the latest on that front check out the website for the Durham Alliance for Food Entrepreneurship and Innovation.

In Carrboro, new food business people don’t need this kind of movement. Because little Carrboro has been open and laissez-faire to food trucks since they came to our communities. Not only has the Town of Carrboro stayed out of the way, they’ve come to the defense of food truck owners in a strong way. For this story of social justice and business development read about Mayor Mark Chilton efforts four years ago. It's all in this OP post called Taco Trucks in Jeopardy?.

A good solution to this problem is for the Mayor and Council to listen to Council Member Lee Storrow. He makes a reasoned argument to fix this issue in his post A Case of Food Trucks. By doing so he’s helping our local government to support business innovation. First by getting out of the way. Then maybe they can get to a holistic approach of supporting more new businesses.

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3 Comments

abgilmore91's picture

Great post

I agree.  Chapel Hill needs to learn the difference between environmental protection and making our town inhospitable to business.  Why allow food trucks if we aren't even going to let them be profitable?  Councilman Storrow presents a cogent, reasoned solution: banning food trucks downtown (to prevent competition with Franklin) and removing barriers to food trucks elsewhere in the county.

Chamber influence

I wholeheartedly agree.  I don't want to lay blame at anyone's feet, especially the Mayor and Council, but it seems as though the Chamber has become the one lens through which everything is being viewed.  Somehow, that private entity has focused discussion on their microcosmic view and, unfortunately, the bigger picture is being lost.  The Chamber is a self-protective entity that exists for the financial profit of their members and any thought that their first concern is Chapel Hill (beyond Chapel Hill's ability to support its members) is naive.Del Snow