Food truck regulations under discussion in Pelham

The Pelham City Council continued to discuss food truck regulations during a Dec. 2 work session. (File)

The Pelham City Council continued to discuss food truck regulations during a Dec. 2 work session. (File)

By MOLLY DAVIDSON / Staff Writer

PELHAM—The Pelham City Council is planning to move forward with food truck regulations. The Council revisited the subject of food trucks during a Dec. 2 work session.

Currently, Pelham has no laws regarding food truck operation within city limits. Vendors must obtain a catering license and receive Health Department approval each time they wish to operate at an event or move locations within the city.

Due to the lack of food truck-specific regulations and complicated process, food truck vendors from outside of Pelham often do not properly register with the city and do not pay sales tax when operating within city limits, Pelham business owner Kai Smith said.

“If we don’t know about them, we can’t address the issue,” Pelham Finance Director Tom Seale said, noting loss of sales tax revenue from unregistered food trucks.

Smith owns a food truck in conjunction with her business, Kai’s Koffee House, and said the unregistered food trucks at events hurt the properly registered, Pelham food trucks.

“The way it is now, there isn’t anything to enforce (charging sales tax). I’m charging sales tax and the other person is not,” Smith said. “It hurts the other people in the city that are doing it the right way.”

Creating laws specific to food truck operation would ease and clarify the process for food truck vendors while also allowing the city to better regulate the mobile vendors.

“I think food trucks are something the city would like to see,” Councilman Ron Scott said. “We can recoup that revenue that’s being generated.”

“We need to make it as simple as possible to bring in vendors for events,” Council President Rick Hayes said.

The Pelham City Council was provided with information on food truck regulations in Alabaster, Birmingham, Calera, Homewood and Vestavia.

“Calera does not have food trucks, Alabaster has one paragraph and Birmingham has 18 pages… It’s all over the map,” Seale said. “Food trucks are not as simple as you think they are.”

The City Council confirmed they hope to have food truck regulations in place by the spring.