Food-truck bureaucracy could put the brakes on rolling kitchens

Jill Warner and Erick Roorda thought times were tough when they opened Mod Livin' a decade ago on a then-rough part of East Colfax Avenue. But in some ways, 2010 was even tougher. The couple partnered with Dylan Moore, the restaurateur behind Deluxe and Delite, to create Deluxe Burger in a side of the Mod Livin' building, wrestling with all the city regulations regarding restaurants. But once they got it open, the burger joint did so well that they soon partnered up again on the Little Orange Rocket, which was in the vanguard of the gourmet food trucks that descended on Denver last year.

The partners used the Deluxe Burger kitchen as a commissary for the Little Orange Rocket — which inspired complaints from neighbors that the truck was blocking the alley off Colfax ("Alley Oops," October 21, 2010). Just one roadblock to that complaint: The alley is one of several hundred in the city that is private, and is actually considered a private drive — with that portion belonging to the Mod Livin' building. Warner and Roorda went to mediation with their neighbors. And they thought they had a deal — until Warner heard that some neighbors were considering a class-action suit.

When the controversy on Colfax first flared, their Park Hill home — where they parked the Little Orange Rocket at night, to calm Colfax neighbors' concerns — offered some respite. But no more. "We got cited by the city," Warner reports. "You can't park in a private driveway in a residential area."

Now they need to find a place to park the Little Orange Rocket for the winter. That nice, private drive outside Mod Livin' has to look pretty tempting.

Next stop: Jill Warner was among the who's who of entrepreneurs who packed Room 391 of the Denver City and County Building on January 26. The room was so packed you would have thought the Denver City Council committee was holding a hearing on medical marijuana. But no, this session was devoted to a discussion of a draft Food Truck Guide — which put all the old rules and regulations affecting mobile food vendors in a new format. The document was supposed to clear up confusion regarding the operation of food trucks in this city, pulling together regulations from the five agencies through which most truck operators must travel before they can take to the road. But after ninety minutes of discussion, it was clear that nothing had been cleared up. "This is extremely confusing," concluded Councilwoman Jeanne Faatz. "If you're trying to do this to clarify things, good luck."

The committee's short-term solution? Set up a task force to clean up the document, and suggest some fixes for the contradictions and obsolete regulations. "When you're done with marijuana, you might want a cupcake," committee co-chair Michael Hancock suggested to Charlie Brown, who had to helm another discussion of the city's Medical Marijuana Code, specifically as it affected growhouses, on January 31. (Watch for a report on that meeting at latestwordblog.com.) Instead, Councilwoman Carla Madison got the job.

She's already met with several truck owners and talked about the easy fixes. For example, the group will probably want to pluck out the antiquated provision that requires trucks to park 200 feet from each other, a regulation that would have prohibited the Justice League of Food vendor gatherings — if anyone had been paying attention.

Other changes will take more discussion, and over the next few months, Madison and her task force will mull over all the possibilities. "At least by spring, we should be able to get an ordinance," she says optimistically.

 
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Stevieod
Stevieod

Why do the citizens of Denver keep voting for these fossils that are blocking the will of the people? Is there something wrong with the voting in Denver that the same old relics are returned to office? People of Denver, stand up for your rights as people and vote these old vermin out of office and get some fresh new blood that will be more responsive to the needs of the citizens of Denver. Viva Revolucion!

G$
G$

Politicians of this city always talk about how important small business is. Between the restrictions, bureaucracy and red tape of this issue and many others, it seems like they are just doing what politicians do ... talking out of their asses. It's time to step up and deliver on your promises.

Druid0621
Druid0621

Government should help people; not stifle them. Denver's government has been out of control and hostile to business for years. Why do we keep rewarding these fools?

Drmynatt
Drmynatt

What about development of ally-ways much like in Portland and Baltimoreand food truck operations. Ally-ways are wasted space that can attract a hipcounter culture. Free the allies and food trucks NOW!

Watrou2000
Watrou2000

How about the people of Denver Examine whether or NOT a City Council is needed ANYWAY? All these so called representatives like Hancock& Brown do is Obfuscate simple issues,and draw a LARGE salary from the People of Denver.* I submit that they are just like any other PAID FLUNKIES and that they are ALL in the hip pocket of private interests. The present Denver city council DOES NOT accurately reflect the views and concerns of the MAJORITY of Denver Taxpaying Citizens! How many "Meetings" have to be held---for The City Council to STILL get "it" WRONG!!!??? Why are the people of Denver NOT replacing these out of touch Politricksters? And since when does an appointment to City Council become a lifetime term? Cathy Reynolds for example has been on council for How many YEARS? and WHY?Lets REPLACE these relics and get some NEW People on Council who More accurately reflect the "Will of the People." Why are people who DON'T operate food trucks for a living---or DON'T use Medical Marijuana(according to them) the people who are in charge of "the rules"? For example, Nobody consults a shoemaker on Zoning rights for a Kennel!!! Since when are these people fit to decide who does what when where?

Rureboundgrl
Rureboundgrl

Terribly sad that people want to make an honest living, in a tough economy and high unemployment rates are ultimately strangled with beaurocratic red tape. But lets open the flood gates and call Colorado a safe haven for illegal immigrants. No red tape there. Hmmmm, seems pretty bassackwords to me. The former mayor and new mayor should be ashamed of themselves that this is even an issue.

 
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