What’s Going On With City Hall?

Denver City Hall

Denver City Hall. Image from Flickr user geodanny: http://www.flickr.com/photos/geodanny/17258067/

A few weeks back, we asked you to share your love of street food with Denver City Council, and you guys were AMAZING. Through our request and those of your favorite vendors, tons of emails flowed into the inbox of councilmen Doug Linkhart and Michael Hancock. And since then, we haven’t told you diddly about what’s going on, and for that we apologize. So, here’s a summary of what’s gone on in the past month.

Denver City Hall Recognizes Need for Change

In January, vendors and street food fans packed the house at the City Council Business, Workforce, and Sustainability committee meeting – you can watch the video of the meeting here. At that meeting, the council admitted that the rules regulating street food hadn’t changed much since 1998, and that given the rapid evolution of this new food trend, change is indeed necessary. They appointed a Food Truck Task Force to be headed up by councilwoman Carla Madison, who represents Denver City Council District 8. In the wake of that meeting, the City issued a final copy of a “Food Truck Guide” for vendors to help them negotiate the sometimes confusing bramble of laws and regulations that apply to them and they’ve been working to ensure that assorted enforcement agencies are in the know as well.

Councilwoman Madison wasted no time in getting to work on figuring out what changes need to happen. On February 16 she met with a slew of Denver vendors for a street food roundtable meeting to discuss how the city can make the streets of Denver even more friendly for vendors. I’m looking forward to seeing the direction this goes!

A Step Toward a Vendor Association

The recent kerfuffle had another positive side effect: our local vendors are moving toward the formation of a professional advocacy association for street food vendors. Matt Geller, the director of the SoCal Mobile Food Vendor’s Association visited Denver last weekend and shared his experience with organizing and advocating for the street food vendors in the LA area. In addition to vendors and a couple of us from DenverStreetFood.com, Councilman and Denver mayoral candidate Linkhart was in attendance, showing his continued interest in and support of our burgeoning street food scene. At the end of the meeting, a volunteer exploratory committee of four (of OUR FAVORITE!!) vendors and one lawyer was formed to get the ball rolling. I don’t know Ed, the lawyer, well, but he might soon join the ranks of my favorite lawyers as well. It’s admittedly a short list.

We’re On the Right Track

In addition to meeting with our vendors, Matt also took time on Monday of last week to meet with Councilwoman Madison to discuss the wide variety of regulatory models in the SoCal area and across the country. I talked with him after that meeting and he was quick to express how positive the meeting was. He seemed confident that Councilwoman Madison will put Denver on the right track in terms of street food regulation.

Moving Forward

This is great news for all the new and aspiring vendors out there. Considering how many notes we’ve been getting here about trucks that will be rolling out this spring and summer, and that a full build of a rockin’ street food truck often represents a substantial investment by the owner, it’s great to know that the City of Denver is interested in creating an environment in which these energetic entrepreneurs can thrive and see a solid return on that investment.

If you like what you’re seeing (and I bet you do!), send a note to your councilperson and let them know that you support the interest and enthusiasm that City Council is showing for the Denver street food scene. Check out this map to find out what district you’re in, and then find your councilperson’s email address here. And as always, please feel free to include info@denverstreetfood.com on any emails you send. We love to hear you voice your support for this vibrant community!

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