Food truck owners in the audience burst into applause Thursday night after Lexington's Urban County Council unanimously approved a six-month pilot project allowing food trucks to set up in public street parking spaces.
"I'm ecstatic," said food truck owner John Walsh, who operates That's How We Roll. "It's been a long two years in coming. But it's time."
Council member Shevawn Akers, who headed the food truck work group, which developed the pilot program over the past six months, said after the meeting, "Lexington just got a lot more awesome."
The city has discussed food trucks for more than two years.
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Akers said she was stunned and thrilled at the passage. "I thought it would get passage, but I thought the vote would be narrow. It was unanimous — that's what was stunning," she said.
The only remaining step is that food truck owners have to fill out a one-page application to participate in the pilot project and pay a $25 fee, Akers said. The application form will be available Monday.
Council member Ed Lane urged his colleagues to vote for the ordinance that established the pilot project. "This is a pilot program. It's only for six months. We're going to have to tweak it, but we need to get started," he said.
Last week, the Lexington Parking Authority, which monitors the city's parking meters, voted to limit the time food trucks could set up on public streets to two-hour stints between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. Trucks are restricted to selling in six downtown zones.
After 5 p.m., the trucks could stay in those parking spots longer than two hours; from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m., they could park anywhere downtown. The parking authority does not monitor parking meters after 5 p.m.
Akers and council member Harry Clarke said at the time that the two-hour limit was not realistic because the vendors would not have much time to sell after accounting for setup and breakdown time. They asked for four hours, but the Parking Authority refused.
The ordinance approved Thursday night simplifies where food trucks can be by saying that after 5 p.m., downtown is wide open for food trucks to park in any metered parking spots that are at least 100 feet from an open business or a residential area.
On weekends, food trucks can set up on any city street between 7 a.m. and 3 a.m.
The ordinance making the hours more liberal was given a first reading by council, and then the rules were suspended and it was given a second reading. Akers thanked other council members for their support. "I cannot thank everyone enough ... in moving Lexington forward as a progressive city," she said.