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The Bloomington City Council is still struggling with how to regulate food trucks. The Council debated eight separate amendments to the proposed rules governing mobile vendors at a meeting last night. City staff put forward the original draft of the regulations, which establish where and when the vendors can operate and set limits on how much noise they can make. The Council considered several changes to the legislation, including one amendment to the noise limits. Council member Steve Volan co-sponsored the measure. He says that it will increase the generator level from 60 to 70 db.
Although the change increases the allowable noise from 60 decibels to 70, one food truck operator said the amendment would actually reduce the amount of noise her generator could produce. Darlene Gonzalez is the owner of Juancho’s Munchies.
Most Council members were unclear about how to set the noise limit. Although Volan co-sponsored the amendment, he suggested it might be best to withdraw it.
The Council later voted down the amendment, which leaves the noise limit at 60 decibels, which is approximately the level of a normal conversation from 3 feet away. Several Council members said they expect to revisit the noise issue early next year. Council member Marty Spechler said it may be all but impossible to set a specific limit that seems reasonable to all involved.
The Council also heard extensive public comment about a rule that forbids food trucks from operating within 50 feet of restaurants. Talia Halliday, who helps organize the Bloomington Handmade Market and runs a shop called Gather, said she likes to work with food trucks.
Several food truck operators and other members of the public said the rules seem aimed at protecting brick and mortar restaurants from an increasingly popular group of food trucks and carts. Patty Mulvihill, a city attorney who helped draft the regulations, responded to that claim.
Council member Susan Sandberg was upfront about her interest in protecting established restaurants. Sandberg said she wanted to be sure those businesses were happy with the new rules.