Editorials

Give mobile food trucks a try

Often things that seem like they should be simple aren't. Mobile food sales is a good example.

It's hard to object to a vision of Lexington that includes being able to choose among tasty edibles as you stroll along a street.

But the devil, as always, is in the details and it's fallen to the city's Itinerant Merchant Task Force to sort through a host of details that come with allowing food trucks and carts in public spaces.

Currently mobile food vendors are perfectly legal on private property and, of course, can operate during festivals such as Lexington's Fourth of July celebration.

The issues that arise about allowing them in more places and at more times include serious policy questions such as their ffect on the established full-service restaurants that bear the cost of maintaining their buildings and staffs.

There are also things that seem a little less cosmic, like who will inspect them and how will the city decide which vendor gets which spot.

All that said, it's time for Lexington to dip its collective toe into this water.

The task force, which has been working for months, is contemplating proposing a pilot project to work out some of these details.

Clearly, the optimum time for this is the warm weather months, so we urge the task force to present a proposal, and the council to act on it, soon so Lexington will have some vendors on the streets before summer is well underway.

This would give everyone an opportunity to see how this can work, evaluate the public's appetite for this type of food offering and assess the impact on existing businesses.

Such a proposal might include trying out different locations for food trucks. It could also test the waters by allowing them to sell outside normal restaurant hours, for example late at night for the bar crowd or on weekends when some downtown lunch places aren't open.

There are many pieces that need to come together for Lexington to have a more active, inviting street scene.

We need to give mobile food vendors a chance to fit into that puzzle.

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