Food trucks have come under increased scrutiny this year as restaurants, store owners and police have clashed with them for limited real estate in Manhattan and other urban areas throughout the country. With trucks and carts becoming increasingly popular, more chain companies are looking to get involved in the mobile game; with Taco Bell and Jack in the Box unveiling their trucks, and even Trojan set to release a contraceptive truck.
Legislators face a difficult decision ahead as they debate how to address these trucks in each city. While food trucks are hip, give entrepreneurs an ease of entry into the restaurant business, and serve a growing demand, they are able to tactfully maneuver throughout urban landscapes to follow crowds. This gives them an undeniable advantage over brick and mortar businesses, and their lack of rent fees makes it very difficult for these grounded businesses to remain competitive. In New York, discussions have been made to turn a parking lot in Long Island City into a type of food truck safe haven, where they could park without disturbing local businesses and traffic and attract visitors to their condensed location. The problem with this, food trucks would lose most of their lunch business in Manhattan, with no guarantee that their customers would commute to Long Island City, Queens.
In cities across the US, legislators are restricting the movements of food trucks to specific areas so as to protect local businesses. Parking regulations are the most popular way to curtail their movement, as cities understand the potential value of food trucks, given that they are placed in a public space without too much business.
Ultimately, food trucks create a dichotomy in urban areas because they can stimulate the economy and attract an eclectic group of visitors. However, they can also hurt preexisting businesses, clog up streets and release fumes into the air, disturbing residential areas. Though food trucks offer a distinct product and enliven certain areas of many cities, they must adhere to the rules of their trade and act responsibly around their brick and mortar peers, or else public support may collude with government regulation to send these mobile vendors far away.