Jeramey Jannene
City Hall

New Proposal Would Regulate When, Where And How Food Trucks Operate

Food trucks could return to Water Street, but with new requirements for how they operate.

By - May 11th, 2023 03:59 pm
Guelaguetzita food truck on N. Water St.. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Guelaguetzita food truck on N. Water St.. Photo by Jeramey Jannene.

Food trucks could return to Water Street under a new proposal, but only until 1 a.m. and with new restrictions on how they operate. It’s part of a larger citywide overhaul of how food trucks are regulated in Milwaukee.

Alderman Jonathan Brostoff believes the new regulations would put the city, customers and responsible operators in a better position and create an effective enforcement mechanism for bad operators. “Right now, what’s the alternative? Ignore a problem until it gets really bad, and then the city can only ban areas,” said the alderman in an interview. He is cosponsoring the proposal with Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa.

The new framework includes four key provisions: a restriction on food trucks within 50 feet of restaurants without drive-throughs, the creation of two limited access zone types, the establishment of new citywide truck requirements and penalties and a requirement that the Common Council review the regulations annually.

The ordinance, which is expected to undergo committee review later this month, would establish Type 1 zones that limit food truck hours and Type 2 zones that restrict the number of food trucks. Type 1 zones would restrict food trucks to operating only until 1 a.m. (instead of 3:30 a.m. citywide) and not for more than six hours at a time in the zone. Type 2 zones would limit the number of trucks within a zone, with access to a specific space provided by a seniority-based, annual permitting system.

The proposed ordinance would require all food truck operators to provide a waste basket and pick up litter, not create a “light nuisance,” not dump any liquid waste and comply with the city’s nuisance ordinance. Littering and pouring grease onto the street were two of the concerns cited by Brostoff in instituting a ban on food trucks on Water Street that lasts through May 31. Fines for noncompliance would be increased ten-fold from a range of $5-$50 to $50-$500.

Brostoff said he doesn’t plan to introduce a new ban specific to the area north of the Water Street bar district. “We’re creating more mechanisms for enforcement,” he said. The area would likely be subject to a “Type 1” type zone, where a 1 a.m. shutoff and six-hour maximum are in effect. He said the new regulations would help good actors while allowing the city to penalize the much smaller number of bad actors.

“Most cities have food trucks zones, sometimes it’s more restrictive than what we are talking about here,” he told Urban Milwaukee.

Zamarripa didn’t respond to a request for comment by the time of publication, but was quoted in a press release announcing the proposal.

“Ald. Brostoff and I agree that bans are not the way to go. We want to support our food trucks while also making sure our constituents are safe, which is why we have done the heavy lifting and put together comprehensive and progressive legislation that outlines how we expect food truck operators to conduct their business, and allow for the creation of food truck zones,” said the alderwoman in the release. Her southside district has several such banned streets enacted by prior alderman Robert Donovan, and also includes a heavily-utilized food truck corridor on the stretch of W. Burnham Street east of S. 35th Street.

The Licenses Committee is expected to discuss the proposal on May 16 at 9 a.m. The Public Safety & Health Committee is expected to discuss the proposal on May 18 at 9 a.m.

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One thought on “City Hall: New Proposal Would Regulate When, Where And How Food Trucks Operate”

  1. Colin says:

    50′ ??!!! so… nowhere then, right? What a flipping joke. Throw this proposal away.

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