Hoover adopts ordinance to regulate food trucks

By STEPHEN DAWKINS

Staff Writer

A new ordinance regulating mobile food units in Hoover is intended to strike a balance between allowing the emerging business model to continue to operate in the city while protecting existing businesses.

The ordinance was approved by the Hoover City Council at its July 18 meeting and took effect immediately.

Councilman John Lyda, who took the lead on developing the ordinance, said regulation for mobile food units, more commonly referred to as food trucks, was needed.

“They are becoming more popular, and because it’s a new business model, municipalities didn’t have anything on the books to deal with food trucks,” Lyda said. “We wanted an ordinance that would continue to allow entrepreneurship and promote new businesses but not tread on brick and mortar stores.”

Food trucks commonly park at locations and at times that allow numerous customers to visit, such as lunch time at Riverchase office park.

Issues have arisen, including trucks parking on the sides of roads, creating safety hazards, and trucks soliciting business in residential areas.

The new ordinance bans both of those practices, but Lyda said it was important to officials to not effectively shut down the practice altogether.

“We don’t do business with a strong-armed approach,” he said. “We wanted to address the issues but work with them. We want to allow them to operate fairly. We had no intention of running them off. They’re welcome here.”

Before an ordinance was in place, food truck operator would often acquire regular business licenses for special events, such as Celebrate Hoover Day, but there was no temporary or specialized license available.

“It was all or nothing,” Lyda said.

Mobile food unit operators now will purchase licenses in amounts based on anticipated sales. An operator expecting to bring in $10,000 or less will pay $100 for a license, $10,000-$25,000 in sales will require $200 for a license, and so forth all the way up to a $500 license for expected sales over $100,000—plus 1/10 of 1 percent of gross receipts less returns.

Other highlights of the ordinance include:

•Health Department and city approvals are required to operate.

•Permits can revoked.

•Operators shall not create or maintain a public nuisance, damage public property or be located on public property.

•Units shall not operate on more than two sites in the city per day, operate in excess of three consecutive days in one location.

•Units shall not be located with a 200-foot radius of a licensed restaurant.

•Property owner approval is required.

•Hours of operation are limited to 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., and 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. during Daylight Saving Time.