Council to vote on food truck regulations

Published: Jun. 28, 2016 at 2:35 AM CDT
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LAWTON, OK (KSWO) - The City of Lawton is hoping food trucks into the fold with new city code that regulates the mobile food businesses. In Tuesday night's City Council meeting, the council will vote on these new codes. The city saw how much food trucks have grown in popularity, and became concerned when they had no food truck code on the books.

With a committee of city council members, restaurant and food truck owners, they created regulations that match the state law. Lawton City Planner Richard Rogalski says that if the food truck owners were already following the state's rules, they don't have much to change. But now the city can enforce the rules themselves, and the food trucks have more options to where they can set up shop.

Owner of Krazy Birdz food truck Joe Abshere was getting ready for his weekly Tuesday service. Abshere and other food truck and restaurant owners spent time with city officials, putting together these new food truck city codes that mirror the state laws.

"It's not hard," said Abshere. "It just a little bit of following the things we've already been doing."

Rogalski says one of the changes is they are allowing food trucks to set up at parks whenever they want with a food truck permit.

That was something that had previously been restricted by the city, unless the trucks were part of an event.

"Like say for instance in Elmer Thomas Park one day they think well I think there are going to be a lot of kids at the play zone, and I'm going to pull over there and see if I can sell some food," said Rogalski. "I think it becomes an amenity in that sort of situation."

Abshere sees that as an opportunity for the community.

"This will just allow us another event or another spot where two or three of us can get together and we can say hey this is food truck Friday or this is food truck Thursday or whatever we want to call it," said Abshere. "Have a spot where the town can come and the community can gather, and have a good time."

Rogalski says creating this code will help them enforce the rules on the city level.

Some problems they run into is food trucks staying in one place for longer than 12 hours, which is against state law.

"It keeps the mobile food mobile," said Rogalski ."I mean if you park it somewhere and don't move it, it's not mobile anymore, it's really permanent."

Where the food trucks can set up for the day isn't strictly regulated by the city.

Abshere says this can really foster growth in the food truck business in Lawton.

"I feel like we are in the infancy stages of what we are doing with food trucks, and putting those restrictions on early is not how you are going to increase food trucks," said Abshere.

There is also a hope that because the city has clear guidelines for food trucks that they can influence trucks based in other cities that would find it difficult to get a permit from the city, to come to Lawton.

If voted in by the City Council, the new ordinances will go into effect by the end of July.

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