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Push to make food trucks available in Grand Rapids

Posted at 10:51 PM, Mar 31, 2016

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. - City officials are working with the newly formed Grand Rapids Food Truck Association in an early push to make food trucks more accessible.

FOX 17 spoke with Lauren D'angelo, owner of Patty Matters, one of nine food trucks in the GRFTA serving food in most West Michigan cities except Grand Rapids.

"We can't vend in Grand Rapids, it's actually really hard to find a place to park in the city that we're actually allowed to," D'angelo said. "In Allendale it's a one-time permit fee and we can park here as much as we want."

GRFTA President Brennan Summers said the current food truck ordinance includes buying expensive permits, restrictive parking rules and limits operating locations.

"Right now we’re only allowed to operate on private property, the property owner then needs to have a special land use permit," GRFTA President Brennan Summers said.

Summers is also the owner of his own food truck, A Moveable Feast, adding operating the truck also requires approval at a public hearing, not to mention a $1900 fee.

"At this point there’s only one location downtown that’s gone through that process and that’s the Grand Rapids Art Museum," said Summers.

Many city leaders, including Mayor Rosalyn Bliss, have expressed their support for food truck vendors.  The Mayor mentioned it during the State of the City address, hoping to make more spaces available for food trucks to operate.

"Food trucks are an entry point to culinary entrepreneurship and we should aspire to support their start-up and evolution," Mayor Bliss said.

Andy Guy, Chief Outcomes Officer with Downtown Grand Rapids Inc. said the city is looking to revise the current ordinance in a way that's respectful of current business fronts: hoping to expand designated areas, hours of operation, and streamline licensing for food trucks.

"It's happening," Summers said. "Progress has been made and there's a lot of conversations with people involved in the process. Having the Mayor's support is huge."