Birmingham Food Truck Industry Problems

Birmingham food truck rules weeks, maybe months away after council delays latest proposal

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama — Proposed regulations on Birmingham’s growing food truck industry continue to simmer — possibly for a few more months — with the Birmingham City Council again delaying action on an ordinance.

The council this afternoon delayed the vote after several members questioned the fairness and legality of the 17-page document. The ordinance from the Public Safety Committee would set regulation on approval, location and times for the growing number of mobile food vendors ranging from Mexican cuisine to cupcakes.

However, council members, including Carole Smitherman, who is a lawyer, said the proposal was problematic because it conflicted with federal constitutional commerce protections. Smitherman called the rules, which included creating an approval committee and limiting the trucks to specific districts away from brick-and-mortar restaurants, heavy-handed and a strangle on businesses.

“I find that this is an equal protection violation,” Smitherman said. “You can’t treat one business one way and another business another way.”

Finding that balance has been the challenge, said Councilman Johnathan Austin, the committee’s chairman. The council will again discuss the rules in a committee meeting next week. Austin later said a revised ordinance should be ready for a final vote no later than November.

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