Food Trucks Returning to Milwaukee's Capitol Drive with New Rules

Food trucks are making a comeback on Milwaukee's W. Capitol Drive, but this time with a designated zone and stricter regulations.

Jeramey Jannene

Replacing the Ban with a Zone:

The Common Council is considering a proposal to create a zone with specific parking spots for approved food truck operators. This zone will stretch between N. 76th Street and N. Mayfair Road, replacing the current ban that went into effect in March.

Safety Concerns Fueled the Ban:

Alderman Lamont Westmoreland, who introduced the proposal, cited safety concerns as the main reason for the initial ban. He highlighted issues like food trucks blocking visibility for drivers leaving businesses, particularly near the shopping center at 76th and Capitol, which is considered a high-risk road.

Beyond Safety: Addressing Oil and Debris

Westmoreland also mentioned problems with oil and debris left behind by unregulated food truck activity. The new zone aims to address this by holding approved vendors accountable for maintaining their designated spots.

A Zoning Model for Food Trucks:

This proposal marks the first application of the city's new food truck regulatory framework, developed last year. The framework, designed for flexibility, allows for creating designated zones in different areas. Alderman Westmoreland's proposal follows the "Type 2" model used at Burnham Park, which restricts vendor density and assigns specific parking slots.

Protecting Brick-and-Mortar Businesses:

The alderman emphasized that food truck slots wouldn't be located near existing restaurants, ensuring a fair playing field for established businesses.

Unanimous Approval, Next Steps:

The Public Safety & Health Committee unanimously approved the proposal, paving the way for a full Common Council vote on April 9th.

Food Truck Crash Not a Factor:

Westmoreland clarified that the ban and the new zone are unrelated to a recent food truck accident that occurred further east on Capitol Drive. Additionally, the existing ban on food trucks between W. Fond du Lac Ave. and N. 76th Street remains in place.

This revised approach aims to strike a balance between public safety, sanitation concerns, and allowing food trucks to operate in a regulated manner on W. Capitol Drive.

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