Columbia’s “assault” on barbecue (Is nothing sacred?)

Consider this sort of an op-ed. Bryan Caskey writes to me to bring my attention to his own blog post about the city’s crackdown on food trucks, which I excerpt here:

Columbia Food Trucks Under Assault from City Council

Think that job-killing regulations are just a Federal problem? Think again. Columbia is just recently experiencing a food truck revival, which has brought great food and a wonderful sense of style to our little town. However, the City Council has passed a stupid regulation:

Starting in February, any vendor who wants to set up shop on private property to sell anything from puppies to produce must have written permission from the landowner. They also must provide city officials with drawings of the sites they frequent and must meet zoning requirements, especially having sufficient parking spaces.

This is ridiculous. If I, as a private property owner, want to invite a food truck to come to my business, I have to draft and execute a written agreement. Then, the food truck has to go down to the City of Columbia and provide a government clerk with a copy of that agreement, provide a drawing of the site, and must jump through other hoops, and probably fill out a couple forms…and probably pay some sort of fee. I would think that permission from the property owner should be sufficient….
Our City Government needs to focus on the serious problems facing Columbia. Food trucks selling me delicious BBQ are not one of them. The City is saying that this is an “unintended consequence”, and that they’re trying to get at other people, but what’s the deal with that? Are we having an epidemic of moving flea markets? Is that the biggest problem we have now as a City? This is just another example of the over-regulation that is running rampant at every level of government in America. Keep your regulations off my food truck!

For the rest of Bryan’s post, visit his blog, “Permanent Press.”

6 thoughts on “Columbia’s “assault” on barbecue (Is nothing sacred?)

  1. Steven Davis

    Get ready, a coworker just got his escrow letter for the upcoming year, his taxes went up $466 this year over last year. The residents of Columbia and Richland County are going to pay for all of Benjamin’s feel good programs. Another year of this and they’ll be begging Bob “Approved Stamp” Coble to come back.

  2. `Kathryn Fenner

    “Job-killing?” Kind of hyperbolic–how many people have a “job” working on a food truck?

    The issue is parity with the businesses that play by the rules–have ADA access, adequate parking, etc. Suppose you spent a lot of money to provide these and your competitor can just pull up a truck across the street and doesn’t have to comply?

    Think ADA regs are stupid? Try spending time getting around with someone in a wheelchair. Think fire safety is overkill? Spend time in a burn unit–there’s a busy one over in Augusta.

    We want jobs, but only fairly created ones.

  3. Michael

    Seems like the City Council should quit worrying about food trucks and start getting serious about the recent string of high profile crimes occurring in Five Points. I lived in Columbia both as a student and an adult and am there everyweek from the Upstate now for business, plus most of my friends, acquaintances, co-workers, etc. live in Columbia. This is the first time I’ve ever heard people in their 20’s, young professionals, young couples, etc. say that they will no longer go to Five Points in the evening. Not even to dinner – just not worth it. Downtown is losing business and dollars to Harbison and Sandhills partly because people don’t feel safe when every few weeks someone else is getting beat up by thugs and criminals.

    Isn’t this, like, embarrassing for Mayor Steve “One Columbia” Benjamin? Come on guy, get on the ball…

  4. Mark Stewart

    Um Kathryn, ADA access is sort of a non-brainer with a food cart…

    Every job created is “unfair” to somebody. But we don’t, and shouldn’t care. Same with food carts. Only if there were hundreds choking the sidewalks would it really matter – and that’s never, ever going to happen here.

  5. Steven Davis

    So those same patrons buying food off a truck are the same people who would be buying a meal off a brick and mortar restaurant? Time to get the hotdog vendors, concession stands and convenience stores shut down. Other cities don’t seem to have a problem with food trucks… but they aren’t Columbia where everything is blown out of proportion.

  6. SusanG

    Interestingly enough, many other cities are dealing with this same issue.

    A quick Google searched turned up articles from NYC, LA, Chicago, DC, Portland, Denver, St Paul, Miami and Raleigh, all having similar issues to ours when it comes to food trucks.

    One might argue that we don’t have as many vendors to deal with as these other cities do, but I found it interesting that it has caused problems in other cities that have had food trucks around for longer than we have.

    This article from Denver praises their local officials for getting ahead of the issue before there were major problems, since not doing so caused large issues in LA:

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