The highly popular food trucks that cruise around the City are set to continue after Council last night approved an extension of their trial and adopted the policy under which they are approved. The trial was extended as many of the trucks have only been on the road a few months (out of the one year initial trial period) it the City wanted to make sure they’d all had a decent run before making a final decision on the initiative, but I can’t see it ending in anything other than a positive finding with research showing 98% of people are in support.
The food trucks were initially introduced as part of the City’s plan to reform the late night economy. Their aim was to provide diverse meal options for people out on the town and make sure people drinking didn’t do so on an empty stomach. However they’ve become incredibly popular throughout the day and night, with many local residents keenly watching the app that lets them know when the trucks are nearby in order to grab a quick, healthy and always different meal out.
Of course, not everyone is happy with the trucks and during the initial trial period two main objections were raised.
The first objection centred around the trucks causing disturbance to residents with the noise and general disruption of amenity that results from a commercial operation suddenly setting up shop in front of a home. The policy as adopted last night has been amended to prohibit the trucks parking in front of residential premises, which I imagine should go a long way to solving that problem.
The second issue raised was the complaint that the trucks compete with other existing food outlets. Some of the conservative Councillors used this as a reason to oppose the continuation of the trucks, but I didn’t agree with their line of thinking. Competition happens between commercial enterprises constantly and it isn’t the place of Council to favour one side over another. If a new kebab shop wanted to open next door to an existing kebab shop on Oxford St this would result in competition for the first shop, but Council wouldn’t (and legally couldn’t) use this as a reason to refuse the second shop’s development application. In fact, given that supporters of business usually also strongly support the free market I was most surprised that Living Sydney Councillor Angela Vithoulkas voted against the motion.
While it’s true that Council have provided some support to getting the trucks started up they’re far from the only business that we’ve helped. Every year we provide tens of thousands of dollars to business chambers in the City and spend hundreds of thousands on events based on the idea that they’ll stimulate business, so the playing field between trucks and conventional food outlets is very much level.
The food trucks are innovative and popular and I think they add a nice extra dimension to life in the City. Now that the issue with residential interference has been dealt with my biggest problem with them is that they don’t come near my place in Redfern.