VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — Virginia Beach council’s narrow vote to establish food truck licenses signifies there is still a long way to go before operators can possibly have the freedom they desire.
Council voted 7-4 Tuesday night to create a new business license for those looking to operate a food truck.
Truck owners in the city will no longer fall under “peddler” guidelines — like ice cream truck operators. Rather, they will be known as “mobile food vendor’s” and the licensing fee will be lowered to the rate currently charged to restaurants instead of the $300 for peddlers.
This was only one part of a proposal that originally went before council last August. Food truck operators also sought to do away with the requirement to conduct criminal background checks.
“The most difficult cities to operate in is the one we want to operate in, and most of us live in Virginia Beach,” said MJ Medlar, a food truck owner. “We are treated like criminals, forced to get mug-shots just to get a business license.”
Restaurants that don’t serve alcohol are not required to perform background checks, according to Medlar.
The original ordinance sponsored by Mayor Bobby Dyer and Councilwoman Jessica Abbott, Kempsville, didn’t include a background check requirement for owners and employees. But at the last minute, a substitute motion by Councilwoman Rosemary Wilson (At-Large) added the background check requirements back in.
This is where the disagreements in council opinion arose, leading Councilmembers Abbott, Moss, Wooten and Nygaard to vote against the proposal.
The Virginia Beach Restaurant Association urged council to hold off altogether.
“We need to have an understanding of what enforcement is going to look like as we regulate this industry,” said Phil Boyer, president of VBRA.
Food truck operators are pushing to operate in public spaces outside of the beach and Atlantic Avenue. They hope they would also be permitted to park on private property and in neighborhoods as long as there is a construction permit.
Dyer urged that more discussions would be had before final regulations were drafted.