At year's end, Veletta Lill, former city council member and executive director of the Dallas Arts District, told Unfair Park: "We will have food trucks in the Arts District by the spring," count on it. After months of working with the city, and experimenting with some Better Block-ing on Flora Street between Pearl and Olive back on a glorious Halloween afternoon, Lill still has good reason to be optimistic: On Thursday there are two items on the City Plan Commission's agenda dealing with "the use of a conveyance as a building for food preparation from mobile food vehicles and related regulations" in the Arts District and downtown.
Both items come with the city staff's stamp of approval, but with some caveats, which you'll see below. Also worth noting: The Dallas CityDesign Studio took time out of its work reconfiguring West Dallas to take a look-see at how other cities handle permitting food trucks, since, as the docs note, "Several other areas of Dallas have expressed an interest in allowing this type of use." Meaning: This is the first serving, but hardly the last. Isn't that right, Fort Worth and Greenville Avenues? Should this pass CPC, it'll go before the city council next month. Now, jump for the staff analysis (and, really, who doesn't?).
Land Use Compatibility: The 60.1279 acre site is developed with various uses such as offices, multifamily and institutional (church), the Museum of Arts, and Meyerson Symphony. In September 2010, the City Plan Commission authorized staff to determine proper zoning on property zoned Planned Development District No. 145 with consideration being given to an amendment to the Planned Development District to allow the use of a conveyance as a building for food preparation from mobile food vehicles and related regulations.
PDD No. 145 does not currently permit the food preparation and sales from mobile vehicles within the Arts District. Staff has been asked to determine the possibilities (positive or negative effects) of permitting preparation and sales from mobile vehicles within the District. The representatives of the Arts District have requested that the food trucks operate on private property or in legal public parking along Flora Street only. In February 1983, the City Council approved Planned Development District No. 145, which incorporated the Sasaki Plan as part of the ordinance. The Sasaki Plan provides design standards and guidelines for all developments proposed within the PDD. In addition, the Plan identifies Flora Street as the pedestrian corridor for the District.
The City Design Studio staff has conducted research on several cities that permit mobile food preparation vehicles as well as identified the agency responsible for regulating the permit process. Several other areas of Dallas have expressed an interest in allowing this type of use. Typical requirements in other cities include a restroom agreement and health inspection requirements.
Staff has reviewed the proposal to allow mobile food preparation vehicles along Flora Street as well as on private properties. Staff cannot support permitting the vehicles on the public right-of-way. Staff is concerned with the lack of control of the type or number of vendors if mobile food preparation vehicles are allowed in the public right-of-way. Staff is also concerned with the negative impact the vehicles may have with the flow of vehicular traffic and pedestrian traffic along a corridor that is designated as a pedestrian corridor. Staff can support allowing mobile food preparation trucks on private property or, as currently allowed, as part of a Special Event Permit. By having the trucks on
private property, traffic and pedestrian safety concerns diminish and owners retain control of who can locate on their property.
The proposed mobile food preparation vehicle use will have to comply with all health and safety regulations and any Dallas Development Code regulations. Certain provisions within the Dallas Development Code, Chapter 17, "Food Establishment", may have to be amended to allow for food vehicles to operate as proposed. Chapter 17 prohibits the mobile food preparation vehicles from:
• selling or serving food on any public street, sidewalk or other public right-of-way, and
• stop for more than 60 consecutive minutes at any one location to sell or serve food and not sell or serve food from any one location for more than a total of three hours within a 24 hour period.
Parking: Parking must comply with the parking regulations in Section 145.104(f)(1) & (2).
Landscaping: Landscaping of any development will be in accordance with Article X, as amended.
Traffic: The Engineering Section of the Department of Sustainable Development and Construction has reviewed the request and determined that the proposed development will not have a negative impact on the surrounding street system.
Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.