Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) speaks at public hearing after reviewing draft of Haltom’s proposed food truck ordinance
HALTOM CITY, TX, April 28, 2021 /24-7PressRelease/ — Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) is a group of Haltom City business owners who would like to see more growth, more opportunity and a more welcoming attitude toward existing and new small businesses in Haltom City, TX.
Drew Weakley, HUBA’s Executive Director, spoke at the April 26 Haltom City Council meeting during a period devoted to public comment on Haltom’s proposed new food truck ordinance. Weakley spoke on behalf of the businesses in favor of allowing food trucks into Haltom City with minimal restrictions. Notably, no one spoke against the food trucks.
“The members of Haltom City Council were tuned in and asked some excellent questions about the issues we raised. They seem inclined to consider the concerns that we have about the draft ordinance,” said Weakley.
Weakley said that he looks forward to continuing to work with Haltom City Council as they make improvements to the proposed food truck ordinance.
“One of the items in the draft ordinance that concerns HUBA members is the provision limiting the trucks to certain corridors within Haltom City, a provision that will prevent the trucks from going to at least half of all the viable locations,” said Weakley.
According to Weakley, Haltom Council members seemed to want to go slowly with food trucks and to allow them only in certain corridors initially. Weakley cautioned against such restrictions in the draft because, in his experience, it could be years before the ordinance was considered again.
“Ordinances that limit business activity for food trucks aren’t consistent with the goal of giving Haltom City’s people more dining choices, building commerce and producing new revenue for the city,” said Weakley.
“We would like to see the city move with a sense of urgency to bring businesses back to the central and south parts of Haltom City so that we can eventually attract a grocery store back to Haltom and an ordinance that makes Haltom food truck friendly is a great start on what should be a more comprehensive plan,” said Weakley.
“We are looking forward to working with the city, as we have on the food truck ordinance, to develop a plan to bring more new small businesses to Haltom City so that the city has fewer vacant commercial properties,” added Weakley.
As the proposed food truck ordinance was being drafted, HUBA offered Haltom City Council these recommendations:
1. Food trucks are currently licensed, permitted and inspected by Tarrant County, just as our restaurants are.
2. No business owner is going to allow them if they impede on the business’s traffic or parking.
3. No food truck is going to go where they are not wanted or where they cannot make money.
4. HUBA does not see what the city gains by limiting food trucks. HUBA fails to see any material risks associated with the trucks, beyond the health and safety issues which are handled by the county, and Insurance, which is required.
5. Our members believe that food trucks should be allowed to operate in the retail, commercial and industrial parts of the city, so long as they are properly licensed by Tarrant County and carry the required insurance.
After reviewing the draft ordinance and getting input from HUBA members, the organization gave testimony at the hearing making these comments:
• A)-Approved locations limiting the trucks to 3 corridors is overly restrictive. HUBA does not believe the residents want to be “protected” from food trucks. HUBA believes they should be allowed in the retail, commercial and industrial zoning districts. This ordinance will continue to make it illegal for food trucks to serve construction sites and larger businesses. It also deprives the citizens of the opportunity to have a pop-up coffee and donut truck, for instance, on Broadway, on a Sunday morning. HUBA believes that Haltom City residents like food trucks and want more options.
• (E)-restricts the trucks from using parking spaces, driveways and fire lanes. The fire lanes are understandable. However, no business owner is going to allow a food truck to impede its business by parking in needed driveways or parking spaces. In many cases, the trucks work at night or on a Sunday when the businesses are closed. In any case, most establishments have no paved surfaces except drives and parking spaces, so this restriction essentially bars trucks from most locations. We think the ordinance should restrict trucks from fire lanes only.
• 2(a)-Requires the trucks to have a location when they apply for a permit. Most trucks applying for a permit will likely not yet have a location selected. Requiring the permission of a property owner as a precondition is too limiting.
• (4)-Seating should be at least 2 tables. This should not be required. Some users of food trucks just want to take meals home. Whether a truck has seating for diners and how much is best left to the truck operator to decide. The operators can figure out how many tables to have to maximize their revenue and give patrons a good dining experience.
• (8)-The proposed ordinance limits 3 trucks to a location. Why limit the number of trucks? If there is adequate space and the trucks can make money, why does the council care if there are 10 trucks, for instance, at the old boarded up Kmart or at a food truck park? This restriction is unneeded and will deprive Haltom City residents of choices.
• The $250 annual fee seems high and will keep many trucks from coming to Haltom City to see if they can do well. Council should amend the ordinance to start at $75 for a year or 2 to attract trucks and then revise the fee upward, if warranted.
• Limiting the hours and days of operation and making operators move the food truck every single day and find alternative storage produces further strain on the business and decreases visibility to potential patrons. These restrictions add nothing of value but make it much harder for trucks to build a following and become viable in Haltom City. Where to park and when to be open should be left to the operator of the truck.
• Prohibiting trucks from parking in the setback will eliminate many locations. Parking in the setback should be allowed so long as it does not create line of sight issues. Trucks are not permanent improvements. Will code enforcement actually know where the setbacks are?
• Trucks should be allowed all the time. The draft ordinance restricts them to Thursday-Sunday operation. HUBA believes the citizens want dining options 7 days a week, and many would, for instance, pick up dinner from a food truck for their family on the way home, especially on weekdays.
• The food trucks should be required to collect and report sales tax for sales within the city. This provision should be added to the ordinance.
• The council expressed concerns about the ability of staff to police compliance. Adding more rules and requirements dramatically increases pressure on staff. If the trucks are allowed with a permit and insurance to operate in the retail, commercial and industrial areas of the city, compliance issues are minimal, residents get maximum dining choices, and the city gets revenues, a triple win!
“We are hopeful that Haltom City Council will consider these issues and make some adjustments as the final food truck ordinance is written,” said Weakley. “We would love to see reasonable rules that make Haltom City a place that many food truck operators want to come to,” said Weakley.
HUBA wants to see a stronger business tax base so that Haltom City’s first responders can be paid competitive wages. They also want to see a grocery store in the central city, liquor approved and more restaurants.
Follow HUBA on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/Haltom-United-Business-Alliance-HUBA. To be added to HUBA’s email list or to share your ideas for making Haltom City more business friendly, contact Drew Weakley at [email protected] or (682) 310-0591.
About Haltom United Business Alliance
Haltom United Business Alliance (HUBA) wants to give members of Haltom City’s business community an advocate and to keep those businesses informed about issues that affect them. They want to make sure Haltom City is business friendly and nurture small business growth, including automotive businesses, and bring more restaurants including breweries and a major grocery store to the city. New businesses and growth in existing businesses will create a stronger tax base which will allow the city to pay its first responders wages that are competitive with surrounding cities while improving Haltom City’s facilities and infrastructure. Anyone who owns a business in Haltom City is eligible to join. Dues are $20 annually or $50 for a lifetime membership, and membership is 100% confidential. To join, contact Drew Weakley at (682) 310-0591 or by email at [email protected]. Visit the group’s Facebook at Haltom United Business Alliance.
About Haltom City
Haltom City is a medium-sized city between Dallas and Fort Worth in Tarrant County, TX. The city is diverse and majority working class, with a growing population that is approximately 10% Asian-American and 45% Hispanic. Haltom City benefits from being only minutes from both DFW Airport and Downtown Fort Worth, with direct access to major highways including I-820 and SH-121. Small businesses that have historically provided products, services, and jobs to residents included a once thriving automotive industry. The city has seen a decline in small businesses, especially automotive businesses. The city is healthy financially, with median household income growing around 8% in the past year. Haltom City has opportunity for continued growth through undeveloped land and many vacant buildings, especially in major corridors close to the city’s center. The city has good staff and a city manager who is interested in seeing more businesses, but they can only do as directed by the Haltom City Council.
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