Council votes in work session to OK food trucks in two city lots; Formal vote set for next meeting

Published 10:34 am Wednesday, October 19, 2016

An Austin family is a step closer to bringing a food truck to Austin.

At it’s Monday work session, the Austin City Council unanimously voted to allow food trucks in the parking lots by Brick Furniture and the Austin Municipal Pool. The council will next vote in a full meeting.

The vote came after Mario Chavez and his daughter, Sara, approached the city to see if they’d be permitted to park a food truck in city lots.

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Food truck or wagon owners can already park them on private property with no issue.

Sara Mario is hoping to bring a food truck to Austin that would serve Mexican food — burritos, tacos and tortas with pork, beef and chicken and fresh ingredients. They plan to charge about $5 for a burrito or $5 for three tacos.

“We would provide good quality food at an affordable price,” Sara said. “We want people to have an authentic Mexican meal that won’t break the budget.”

Sara told the council they were thinking about being open for lunch and early dinner.

The Chavez family owned a restaurant business in Mexico for about 20 years before moving to the U.S.

After food trucks have garnered much interest in cities like Rochester after new ordinances passed, City Clerk Ann Kasel cautioned this isn’t a new ordinance, it’s more an adjustment to test the waters.

“We’re kind of thinking we’d allow it in certain municipal lots to see how it goes and to see if this is something that more trucks are interested in before we over-regulate it,” Kasel said.

From past experience, Planning and Zoning Administrator Holly Wallace said the city’s learned that issues can arise when the food trucks are near existing businesses, so they picked areas — the Austin Municipal Pool lot and the lot just north of Brick Furniture — as lots that allow food trucks.

“These are areas where we thought they could at least be downtown closer to more dense population areas where people are working and be present during the lunch hour, but hopefully not causing any complaints by existing property owners,” Wallace said.

Kasel noted statutes limit the amount of days food trucks can stay in one spot, but Sarah said they’d like to move to a few different spots — potentially some on private property — to be in compliance with the state.

Cladio Gormaz, Sara’s uncle and Mario’s brother-in-law, said the family isn’t sure yet when they’ll open their truck in Austin, as council approval was their first step.