We need food carts and trucks on public property in downtown Lexington this summer.
A task force has been meeting for over a year on the topic but has yet to offer an ordinance to the Urban County Council.
The outlines of a proposal are in place for a pilot project that would allow mobile food vendors to set up on certain public properties downtown after 10 p.m.
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Still, nothing has moved forward to the Urban County Council. The task force, chaired by Councilwoman Peggy Henson, is running out of time to get any kind of pilot project going for this summer and fall.
Is it asking too much that young people coming out of downtown watering holes late at night might have a chance to buy a tasty, sobering snack before they head home?
It seems it is. Without quick action the chances are slim that a proposal could get through the legislative process and become an ordinance before the council goes on summer break in August.
While the task force meets again June 4, several members will be absent so it won't have a quorum to take action until its July 9 meeting.
That's all too bad.
We are on the verge of achieving a vibrant downtown. Both Short and Jefferson streets have taken off as prime locations for restaurants. We've lived through, trekked over and driven around projects that have finally resulted in more beautiful, walkable sidewalks.
The return of Thursday Night Live and the Kentucky Theatre's summer classic film series, and the introduction of Friday night movies in Triangle Park make hanging out downtown in the summer an attractive option.
So, why is it so hard to work out a deal to at least try food trucks?
Existing restaurant owners have raised concerns about the impact of competing with mobile vendors, with their lower fixed costs.
Food truck advocates have chafed at being restricted from operating within 200 feet of an existing restaurant.
Both need to give a little. It seems the potential upside of attracting more people to downtown as a food destination could well outweigh the possibility that hand-held food sold from mobile vendors will cut significantly into the business of established sit-down restaurants. And 200 feet just isn't that far.
In any case, a pilot project is a way to test these questions.
In the meantime, mobile vendors can set up on private property now, so perhaps they should by-pass this contentious process and build on the success of the two-day food truck rally on a vacant Main Street lot in late April.
Organizers said the vendors sold out as an estimated 1,300 customers came downtown to try the food.
But we'd like to see the city make this part of the plan for downtown. Here's hoping Henson can wrangle a proposal out of her task force so Lexington can give food trucks a real try.