Food truck operators want laws changed

By Joel Eisenbaum - Investigative Reporter

HOUSTON - There are approximately 900 licensed food trucks that operate in the city of Houston, and many of those small business owners think they're not getting a fair shake a potential business because of restrictive local ordinances.

"We just want an honest chance. These ordinances haven't been changed for quite some time. I think now is the time to do it," said Joanna Torok, owner of Oh My Pocket Pies.

Torok points to laws that prohibit the use of propane in downtown Houston without a firefighter present. Other laws prohibit food truck operators from putting out seating or operating within 60 feet of another food truck.

The Mobile Food Unit Collective, a local trade group, wants to ease those restrictions and Tuesday presented their argument to ease those restrictions.

Some downtown restaurateurs are not in favor of changing the rules. In what is already a tough economic climate, changing the laws could create more competition.

"You've got guys and gals down here who have invested millions of dollars to make it downtown ...  only to have the city deregulate one segment of our industry so it's easier for them to operate?" Michael Shine, manager of Frank's Chop House, asked.

Houston City Council will listen to public comment on the issue Sept. 25. No vote has been scheduled at this point.

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