With patience, compromise, and a mayoral staffer who liked burritos and cupcakes, food trucks ' I mean the sort of brightly painted mobile kitchens that now pop up on street corners during lunch and after concerts ' have found a home in parts of the city. The "patience" part was important because not everyone (including their brick-and-mortar competitors, health officials, and motorists competing for parking) initially (or, yet) welcomed them. But, a staffer working mostly on her own negotiated enough compromises among the interested parties to allow a fleet of such trucks to try to find customers here without too much hassle.
Food trucks are just the tip of the iceberg for contemporary mobile retailing. In California, you can buy fancy flowers, designer shoes, and school supplies; get a haircut; or play video games ' all from a truck. And such trends flow east. Just this past week, a stylish staffer asked for permission to see how a local truck that sells fashionable clothing could operate without too much interference on city streets.
My answer: yes, but remember that the road traveled by the burritos and fish tacos was a bumpy one at first.
We need to find out a way to license mobile boutiques ' or florists, stylists, or other services/goods - that does not put brick and mortar stores, who have already made substantial investments in their neighborhoods, at a disadvantage. We will also need to identify neighborhoods that will welcome them. And we will need to satisfy the revenue collectors and law enforcers.
After months of back and forth, food trucks generally abide by an enforceable set of rules outlining everything from food safety regulations to where and for how long they can park. They are welcome in some neighborhoods, but not in others. They are licensed and pay taxes.
The fashion truck and its mobile sisters are pirates for now, but I am confident we can figure this out fairly, too.