Delicate balance needed for city food truck measure

Food trucks have been sprouting locally like cornstalks, especially in downtown Williamsport.

They have added vibrance and selection to the city’s already rich eating portfolio.

But as with anything in private industry, there needs to be some regulation in place for food trucks that assures an even playing field with everyone in that highly competitive sector locally.

The city’s economic revitalization committee met recently in the hope of finding the correct balance for a proposed ordinance regulating food trucks.

To be clear, no one should be trying to stunt the growth of food truck operators and it did not appear anyone on the committee was trying to do that.

But some common sense rules, in our view, are not out of order.

Food trucks should not be allowed to park in front of restaurants or in front of private residences.

Operators of them should pay a mercantile tax based on receipts, just like other businesses.

They should have to carry insurance, have a health license, pay a permit fee and provide a trash receptacle.

While a limit on the number of food truck licenses has been suggested, we are not sure that meets free enterprise standards.

But the rest of the rules mentioned above seem like fair expectations.

What we don’t need is a prohibition against food trucks or aggressive attempts to stunt their business.

They can be the birthing element for an eventual brick-and-mortar eating establishment.

And after a certain hour – 9 p.m., for example – their operation can add to consumer choices. One local restaurateur commented that from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. food trucks can be helpful with those drinking alcohol who could use some food.

The food truck operators need to weigh in more vocally on this issue. And the goal should be a common sense ordinance fair to everyone in the eatery business. So far, it appears decision makers are headed in that direction.

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