While street vendors are a long-established part of the culture in certain parts of the U.S., the idea of getting a meal from a roving truck is taking shape in rural areas and becoming more and more of a trend.
However, change may be afoot for food trucks wanting to serve up their food on the go in Socorro.
Last week, Mayor Ravi Bhasker noted during the of the Socorro City Council meeting he planned to a bring an ordinance forward that would address pop-up food trucks.
Bhasker said it’s a touchy situation. “I just saw where they (some community members) were talking about food trucks setting up in the parking lot of New Mexico Tech. We’ve got food trucks up and down the street (California).”
He noted that food trucks, as opposed to locally owned restaurants, do not pay property tax nor do they have a building to maintain.
Bhasker said he plans to work with the council in coming weeks to introduce an ordinance or a higher vendor fee, to offset what the city is potentially losing in property tax revenue.
“For people to just set up a food truck in somebody’s lot and do business, where our restaurants – that are building based,” Bhasker said. “And I don’t even know how we follow the gross receipts on these businesses.”
Bhasker believes there needs to be better accountability, because it’s taking away from the people who have restaurants in a building and paying property tax.
Councilman Gordy Hicks concurred with Bhasker. “I think this is an excellent idea. I was up in Dever and in northern Colorado recently and they were parking in the same lots, right next to restaurants. I agree, it’s not fair to the people that are paying that expensive overhead to have someone come in with a smaller overhead and not pay anything.”
Councilor Debra Dean who owns a local restaurant, said she didn’t have a problem with food trucks because they must be inspected and have a license to operate. What concerned her more was the individuals who advertise they’ll deliver food. “You have to wonder where they are making their food,” she said.
Fostering a healthy economic climate in the local community was important as Bhasker explained there needs to be accountability.
“I understand that we have a bunch (food trucks) in town and their food is great. But there needs to be more accountability for them as well as other vendors. I don’t want to discourage entrepreneurship, nor the amount of money people put into these food trucks. As a city we must make sure that everybody’s held accountable.”
In other business, council:
• Approved a restaurant liquor license for Sofia’s Kitchen, 105 Bullock Street, in Socorro.
• Approved the donation of a 2003 Ford Econoline van to the Veteran’s Village located south of Socorro. The city no longer had a use for the van and it had become obsolete.
• Approved the business licenses for WNM Communications (owned by Daniel Meszler) located on 1315 Enterprise Road for an internet and phone service business; United Parcel Service (Rick Bishop), located at South Airport Road, for a package transportation business; and Clocks and Stuff (owned by Felipe Rivas) at 511 Park Street for a clocks on pictures and crafts business.