HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Council voted unanimously Wednesday night to pass several amendments to Hampton’s code that will help make it easier for food trucks to operate in the city, while expanding where they can operate.
Hampton City Council’s vote on the amendments comes after they got approval by the city’s planning commission back on May 18.
Zoning Administrator Allison Jackura said City Council directed staff last year to streamline the food truck application process and provide some regulations. Jackura says staff met with many stakeholders, including the local 757 Food Truckers United group, and used surveys from local business parks like the Langley Research and Development Park and Copeland Industrial Park.
Currently, the city has a “haphazard or uncoordinated” system when it comes to food truck inspections and permits, Jackura said during the planning commission meeting, with operators having to get permission through multiple city departments.
Those include a mobile unit permit (granted through the health department), a peddler’s license (commission of revenue), peddler’s permit (commission of revenue), fire inspection (Hampton Fire Division) and a zoning ordinance through the community development department.
The new, roughly two-week approval process for trucks will take those steps and put them into permit, with a separate inspection from the health department. After approval, they’ll get a sticker saying they’re good to operate in the city.
Site approval will take about 1-2 weeks (quicker for already established locations) and they won’t have an expiration unless it’s revoked or there’s a change to the site.
Speaking of locations, the new amendments would open up the possibility of food trucks in areas where they’re currently not able to operate, such as Coliseum Central and Downtown, if a private business wants to become a food truck host site and meets necessary criteria.
Food truck “host site” permits will still be limited in residential areas (to religious facilities, hospitals, etc.) and only operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. (in line with Hampton’s noise ordinance times) if within 100 feet of residential zoning.
All other areas approved for food trucks will be from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m., similar to restaurants without an alcohol license, the city says.
Trucks won’t be able to be on the street, or block access or navigational areas such as a fire lane, and there will have to be a 10-foot separation between trucks for fire safety. There can also be limited temporary seating near the trucks.
With all of this, there will be a map of approved sites for food truck locations, which will allow trucks to reserve spots 48 hours in advance. The city says this will make inspections and other code and tax enforcement easier.
This is all for day-to-day food truck operations, as special event licenses will still be handled separately, the city says.
Other regulations include operators not being allowed to park at homes. They’ll have to to park their trucks in commercial or industrial parking lots, in a rear or screened in area.
The new amendments also establish the definition of a food truck as mobile food vendors that are actual vehicles, as well trailers and carts.
WAVY’s reached out to a local food truck association to get their comment on the new regulations and will update our story when we hear back.