Food trucks continue to receive parking permits from Casper while city officials work to develop a new policy on mobile vendors, but that could be changing after a local business owner asked the Casper City Council to halt this process at last Tuesday’s meeting.
Jacquie Anderson, the owner of Jacquie’s Bistro, told the council that its decision to continue issuing permits prior to the completion of the new policy has allowed “chaos” to continue downtown.
“We have a lot of people who aren’t talking to each other,” she said.
Food trucks became a divisive issue last summer when they started routinely parking in the city’s center on Fridays and Saturdays. Some brick-and-mortar establishments are upset because the permits are free and the trucks take away parking spaces from potential customers; others think they offer a fun dining option and bring more people downtown.
This has especially created tension between some downtown merchants and the owners of Frontier Brewing Company, as one of the business’s owners has invited and encouraged the trucks to park in front of the brewery on East Second Street.
Shawn Houck, Frontier’s co-owner, told the Star-Tribune last month that he doesn’t understand why this is controversial.
“We have a parking garage half a block away,” he said, adding that he thinks the trucks are beneficial for everyone because they draw people to the area.
But Anderson told the council Tuesday that stricter guidelines are needed because the mobile vendors are parking too close to brick-and-mortar businesses and taking away needed customers.
“We don’t have the population to support all these wonderful choices that everybody loves,” she said.
Councilman Shawn Johnson said he agreed the permit process should be suspended because he felt the situation was getting worse.
“I’m tired of the issue,” said Councilwoman Amanda Huckabay, after she supported suspending the process.
But the rest of the Council ultimately decided to continue discussing the issue at its Tuesday work session.
City Manager Carter Napier previously told the Star-Tribune that banning mobile vendors from downtown seems unlikely at this point, but said the city is considering charging a fee for their parking permits and requiring more advanced notice.
Staff expects to have a formal recommendation prepared for the council by this spring.