Food truck issue similar to VRBO issue

If you haven’t done so already, you can read on the front page of this issue of the Chronicle about the Custer City Council’s slow march to implementing rules for food truck vendors as a part of its Ordinance No. 811, which deals with peddling and transient merchants. The council has been working on this for quite some time now, trying to balance the needs and wants of constituents who say they want the food trucks in town against restaurant owners who are worried that the food truck owners will take away business without ever investing in the town.
This issue reminds us of the vacation rental issue that dominated city hall for a couple of years, as city staff and the council wrestled with property owner rights and the rights of people who live next to those properties who did not want to deal with living next door to a glorified hotel. It’s an issue where you can see both sides and can certainly argue both sides. In fact, we did so right in this space. Would we want to live next door to a property where complete strangers are constantly coming and going, bringing their screaming kids, pets, large trucks, etc.? Probably not. Would we gladly rent out our home or a room in our home for hundreds of dollars a night? Gladly. It’s truly an issue where it all depends on whose ox is getting gored.
The same can be said for the food truck issue. We wouldn’t mind seeing some food trucks roll into town with some different food offerings (Chinese food, anyone?), especially for those days when you don’t want to go sit in a restaurant—you just want to grab and go.
We can certainly see why a bunch of food trucks rolling into town would be something restaurant owners would be wary of, however. Restaurant owners are invested in the town. They pay property taxes on their brick and mortar businesses, and in the case of many of the restaurants, are constantly giving back to the community through donations, hosting all kinds of events, etc. They are true pillars of the community who care about Custer and contribute to its well being.
Among the arguments some of the restaurant owners have made is that the food trucks will just take the money and run and contribute nothing to town. It’s an argument that cannot be dismissed, although it has been said that some of the food truck owners are local people who will indeed contribute to the town.
To us, it seems like a reasonable request that some sort of cap is placed on the number of food trucks in town at once, and that seems to be the way it is going. We have smart people in charge, and they will figure it out. This can be a win-win, with food trucks being allowed and encouraged year-round, while also not making it a free for all that seriously harms our anchor businesses. There’s room for all if we can work together to get there.

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