Nashville is no closer to creating regulations to allow food trucks after Metro’s Traffic and Parking Commission Monday afternoon deferred a decision on vending regulations indefinitely. Metro Public Works Director Billy Lynch made the request.
The commission will work with other Metro agencies, possibly including the fire, health and codes departments, on a set of regulations that will then be presented to the Metro Council for approval.
By deferring the issue indefinitely, the commission freed itself from what has become a pattern of monthly deferrals. Taking a multi-department approach allows for discussion of issues beyond traffic safety and parking.
City officials last month told The City Paper that a resolution would require the involvement of other Metro agencies. Mobile food vendors have expressed concerns that pushing it to the council could open up the possibility of competition-based regulations.
Speaking to the commission Monday, Lynch was full of optimism, perhaps putting a new positive spin on what was accurately labeled “old business” on the meeting’s agenda. “We want this policy to reflect what I feel is true — that Nashville is the best city around,” he said.
Although the proceedings have lagged thus far, Lynch said he’d issued assurances to food truck owners that the city won’t be dragging its feet going forward.
“We’re not slow walking,” he said. “We’re going to do this right and we’re going to move quick.”
Nashville Food Truck Association president B.J. Lofback said he made a request to Lynch that the association be involved in the discussions to come and that it was granted. Mobile vendors have felt left out at times in the months-long process.
The move to the council, though, could exacerbate what mobile vendors have called a “David vs. Goliath” situation — the prevailing perception that brick-and-mortar restaurant owners and their representatives have a bigger influence on the city’s lawmakers. Lofback called on food-truck fans to continue supporting the trucks they love.
“We anticipated this, and we’re looking forward to seeing the process through,” he said, adding, “If you love food trucks, you need to start saying it now.”