Lexington Parking Authority expected to enact new regulations for food trucks

bfortune@herald-leader.comJune 12, 2013 

The Lexington Parking Authority is expected to enact regulations Thursday that, among other things, will limit how long a food truck can park in a metered parking space and change the streets on which the trucks can park.

The regulation changes stem from the Parking Authority's efforts to clarify its role in regulating food trucks that park in metered parking zones. For the past two weeks, the Parking Authority has been researching data on the occupancy rate of downtown parking spaces. That process delayed the Urban County Council's final reading on a proposed six-month pilot project for food trucks on downtown streets.

The Parking Authority has identified areas downtown where meters are used less than half the time, said Gary Means, executive director of the Parking Authority.

"We can say to everyone, we are letting food trucks go into an area and we can guarantee this isn't going to impact the downtown parking because these are areas where people aren't parking anyway. The spaces are sitting empty," he said

The Parking Authority is scheduled to meet at 10 a.m. Thursday in the Phoenix Building to consider the resolutions.

Two zones — on East High between South Limestone and South Martin Luther King Boulevard, and West High between South Upper and South Mill streets — approved as part of a 6-month pilot project will remain.

Two blocks on Vine Street and another on Limestone will be eliminated because parking spaces there are occupied more than half the time, Means said.

Two new zones will be North Martin Luther King Boulevard between Wickliffe and Constitution streets, and East Corral between Martin Luther King and Spruce Street.

Food trucks can park in those metered spaces for two hours a day between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The Parking Authority sees this as treating downtown parking in an even-handed fashion, Means said, not giving preferential treatment to food trucks by allowing them to park in metered spaces longer than any other vehicle.

"We're really trying to keep with our mission of facilitating parking for all downtown businesses and encouraging frequent turnover of parking spaces that fosters economic development," Means said.

No more than half of the spaces in a zone can be occupied by the mobile food vendors.

The Parking Authority monitors parking meters between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. If a truck parks in a metered space at 3 p.m., it can stay longer than two hours because the authority stops checking meters at 5 p.m., Means said.

From 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., food trucks can park anywhere on city streets, but they have to stay 100 feet from the entrance to a restaurant.

Councilwoman Shevawn Akers expressed frustration Wednesday.

"What I have gotten passed so far is because Gary said to me, 'Yes, we will allow trucks on the streets. And yes in these zones.' He was OK with all of that," Akers said. "If that was not the will of his board, I would like to have known about it months ago."

Beverly Fortune: (859) 231-3251. Twitter: @BFortune2010

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