Casper City Council Amends, Advances Non-communist Food Truck Rules
It ain't communism.
The nine members of Casper City Council heard and weighed arguments from seven business owners on Tuesday about a proposed ordinance regulating food trucks and other mobile vendors that want to operate downtown.
Council members welcomed comments and discussed the number of permits a month the vendors may receive, the hours of operations on Second Street between Wolcott and David streets, balancing the interests of the food trucks and established brick-and-mortar restaurants, the regulations in cities comparable in size to Casper, parking locations, and the future of downtown.
But they saw red when one food truck owner likened their policy-making to communism.
"The quick definition of communism comes to mind," Rockin Burgers N Dogs food truck owner Ticker Lock told the council.
"Communism's quick definition is power and control," Lock said. "That means if I'm doing better or worse than a business, that's not fair, and my money should be increased or decreased to make it fair."
Council members didn't much like the comparison of the proposed Mobile Vendor Parking Permit Ordinance to the fruit of Marx, Engels, Lenin and the gang.
"And we're not communists, either," Dallas Laird said. "Whoever brought that comment up -- this isn't a communist deal. I really resented that. Because I'm not a communist. What I'm trying to do is to be fair to people here and get it moderated where we can live with it and we can let people make a living, and you can make your living and not have your business interfered with."
Chris Walsh wasn't joining the revolution, either.
"That communist remark you made, you turned me off in a second," Walsh said.
Lock defended himself, saying, "It wasn't meant to be like that."
Walsh wasn't going to argue with him, he said. "You told me what you thought. I didn't like it."
Regulations aren't communist, Walsh said. The road belongs to everybody, so there will be fees to set up the food trucks, he said.
After the cheap-shot ideological flap ended, council discussed and approved two amendments on second reading. Council will vote on third and final reading of the ordinance in several weeks.
One would allow food trucks to obtain up to 10 permits per month, up from eight. Food trucks often operate on Fridays and Saturdays, but some months have five weekends.
The other amendment would allow the food trucks to operate from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m., instead of the original 6 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Bob Hopkins unsuccessfully tried to amend the proposed ordinance by modeling it on one used by Cheyenne.
But Charlie Powell successfully proposed an amendment that had not been previously considered.
Powell said the city, at the city manager's discretion, should allow a public open space possibly near the former Plains Furniture building on South David Street to be available to all vendors.
They still would need to meet the requirements of the Casper-Natrona County Health Department, but otherwise be unregulated as to their operating hours or frequency of doing business, he said.
"What I'm trying to do is create an incentive for people to essentially avoid the whole rigamarole that we have created with the downtown district and the permits and the fees, and basically say, "If you want to go down that road, it's there for you."