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Paving the way for food truck parking

In years past, food trucks were generally seen at fairs selling corn dogs, cotton candy and funnel cakes. More recently, with the cost of opening a restaurant, some chefs and restaurateurs have turned to having their food cooked and served out of brightly decorated food trucks that now sell everything from tacos to tilapia wraps.

Some trucks still keep things simple selling sandwiches or hamburgers while some serve up gourmet food that you may find in an expensive Los Angeles restaurant.

Being proactive

The trend for food trucks has been spreading across the country and some food truck owners have finally noticed Oxford. Jake Sessums, owner of Yaknapataco food truck, is asking city officials to be proactive and create ordinances that will not only create a welcoming atmosphere for the growing food merchants but also keep things controlled. “I’ve been working with the planning department to figure out some ordinances,” Sessums told the Oxford Parking Commission Friday. “With being one of the first trucks in town, people are calling me and asking what are their options.”

By state law, food trucks cannot park on public property. They can only park on private, commercially zoned lots. Mayor Pat Patterson said there are options, like getting a local and private legislative action passed, designating an area for food trucks.

“Could be, say, 10th Street,” he said. “But that’s just an idea. We like the idea of food trucks here but we can’t say go ahead and park on public property which is against state law.”

Parking Commissioner Kevin Frye suggested looking at other Mississippi cities and seeing what they have done to accommodate food trucks, like Tupelo, which now has several food trucks downtown.

“Come back to us with some ideas we can look at,” Frye said.

Planning Administrator Ben Requet said a new ordinance that addressed food trucks would be going before the Oxford Ordinance Review Board in two weeks. several items that should be in it to protect the city, the public and the food truck owner, for example, providing proof of car and fire insurance.

“We’re flushing out the final details,” he told the commissioners. “It’s a stepping stone but within the framework of what is legal, but with some additional standards.

Requet didn’t present the proposed ordinance to the commission. If approved by the Ordinance Board, it will then go before the Parking Commission and possibly the Planning Commission before going before the Board of Aldermen for a vote. A public hearing would be held before the aldermen voted on the ordinance.

Permit needed

Currently, food trucks operating in Oxford must get a transient vendor permit, but Sessums said the permit does include

 

“If you’re driving a truck, to me, you should have car insurance,” Sessums said. “And if you’re parked on private property and your truck catches on fire and damages that person’s house, there could be liability.”

Sessums said food trucks fill a need by serving food near the Square during the late-night hours after the restaurants no longer serve food. He would like to see the city allow the food trucks in some residential, student living com- plexes.

“We could set up after 10 and when these kids come home from the Square, they don’t want to get into a car to get something to eat,” Sessums said. “So we do provide some community service as well.”

In other business Monday:

— Approved no parking fees on the fol- lowing holidays: Veterans Day on Nov. 11; Thanksgiving and the day after on Nov. 26 and 27; Christmas Eve on Dec. 24; Christmas on Dec. 25; and New Year’s Day on Jan. 1. Mayor Pat Patterson said City Hall would be open on New Year’s Eve day, Dec. 31.

— Parking Director announced meters took in $60,838 during the month of October and $118,905 in the last 13 months since meters were installed on Sept. 1, 2014. “