New food-truck regulations idling in face of restaurant concerns

"I don't think that it's fair that if you're selling pizza out of your truck, you can park in front of a pizza shop."

| April 03, 2013

As spring approaches, Pittsburgh's food trucks are beginning to come out of hibernation. But a proposal to make it easier for them to operate is languishing in Pittsburgh City Council. 

The bill, introduced by City Councilor Bill Peduto last October, sought significant changes to the city's current rules. It eliminated prohibitions against parking in metered spots, or within 500 feet of a brick-and-mortar business selling similar fare. It also would have increased the time a truck could stay in one spot, from 30 minutes to four hours. 

But the measure died at the end of the year, and Peduto has not reintroduced the bill, because he doubts it has enough support on council. 

"It doesn't make sense to introduce a bill only to see it fail," says Peduto. The main sticking point, he surmises, is that his proposal could allow food trucks to operate next to brick-and-mortar restaurants offering similar cuisine. "Proximity is the major issue," he says.

Corey O'Connor, one of the councilors with doubts about Peduto's overhaul, agrees. "I don't think that it's fair that if you're selling pizza out of your truck, you can park in front of a pizza shop." 

Restaurant owners also object. 

"As long as they can't park in front of existing businesses, no one has an issue" with food trucks, says Jeff Cohen, a board member of the Western Chapter of the Pennsylvania Restaurant and Lodging Association, and owner of the Smallman Street Deli. "We want it to be a fair playing field." 

But Peduto warns that proximity restrictions could get the city sued: As long as a food truck is in compliance with zoning rules, he says, "we don't have the constitutional right to tell a business where it can locate." 

O'Connor says he has other concerns, including the proposal to increase the amount of time a food truck remains in one location. But he says he likes the idea of "doing something new and innovative," and is open to debating the issue. But "the bill just hasn't come up," he says, "so we put it on the back burner at this point."

Comments (4)

Showing 1-4 of 4

come on. this can surely be worked out. no one is up in arms now that restaurants are launching their own food trucks. there are enough customers for everyone. give pittsburgh the chance the grown.

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Posted by lulu on 04/08/2013 at 5:42 PM

Great, Corey O'Connor has decided to carry on Bob "I know art when I see it" O'Connor's proud tradition of holding back novel business ideas in Pittsburgh.

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Posted by Greenfieldian on 04/12/2013 at 1:55 PM

I would rather there be more free market competition than things being "fair." Competition drives up quality and drives down price, both better for the consumer. Complaining it's not fair is very one-sided, on the side of only one business. I've never heard of a food truck choosing to park right in front of a restaurant with the same cuisine. Straw man argument fail.

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Posted by Beerman on 06/23/2013 at 12:17 AM

Pittsburgh is sometimes its own worst enemy. It inhibits business unless your some major corporation. This does not help when business are at an all time low for hiring workers. Inhibiting buisness is bad for everyone. Wise up Pittsburgh, you have so much to offer, but you keep it a secret.
They need to get this back on the agenda. What sort of moron would park in front of a resturant that already serves that type of food? This is not something that is rocket science.

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Posted by Just Me on 05/21/2014 at 9:18 AM
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