Bon appétit, Boulder. Food options in the city just entered the era of mobile gourmet.
In a unanimous vote, the City Council on Tuesday night approved new rules allowing food trucks to sell their goods in select areas of the city.
The regulations -- which still must be approved at a third reading in May because the council made amendments -- allow food trucks to operate on private property with the permission of the owners in industrial, business, mixed-use and downtown zoning districts.
The trucks also will be allowed to operate in public rights-of-way in industrial zones -- located mostly in east Boulder or the Gunbarrel area -- or as part of an organized special event such as the Boulder Creek Festival or block parties.
The trucks must stay at least 100 feet away from restaurants, 150 feet away from residential areas and 200 feet away from other food trucks.
The trucks will be allowed to operate from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., but not for longer than four hours in any one location. They will not be allowed to sell alcohol or put out tables or chairs.
Owners also will have to get clearance from the health department and pay for a $200 annual license.
The regulations prohibit food trucks from operating in public rights-of-way in downtown Boulder or on University Hill, where many restaurant owners have objected to the competition. They could park in private parking lots in those areas, however.
Allowing food trucks in certain areas of the city has gained wide acceptance among Boulder's boards and commissions. But while Downtown Boulder supported the regulations, it also warned against allowing food trucks to compete for customers near traditional restaurants.
Councilman Ken Wilson said he's heard from some restaurant owners who are still upset about allowing food trucks to operate in Boulder.
Tim Shaughnessy, general manager of the Lazy Dog Sports Bar & Grill at 1346 Pearl St., said he thinks food trucks have unfair advantages compared with restaurants -- which have higher overhead and might not be able to compete with food-truck prices.
"I think it should be 200 feet," he said of the minimum distance requirement between restaurants and food trucks.
Molly Winter, director of Boulder's Downtown and University Hill Management Division, said allowing food trucks to operate primarily in office parks and on private property is a good compromise.
"It brings lunch or food to places where there aren't a lot of options, and it saves people from driving to restaurants," she said.
Some council members were concerned about the potential conflict between food trucks and park concessions.
City Manager Jane Brautigam said the city needs to study whether it should change the way it contracts with concession vendors at city parks, which now have "exclusivity" clauses that would prevent food trucks from serving customers at ball games and other events. Several council members asked staffers to come up with a way for food trucks to be able to serve at city parks.
Several owners of Boulder-based food trucks came to the council meeting, mostly agreeing that the new regulations are fair.
John Campbell, who said he's about three weeks away from opening a new food truck that will offer street food from around the world, praised the City Council for approving the regulations.
"I think it's going to be a huge boost to Boulder," he said. "If this works, I want to have another (truck) next year."
He predicted that there could be as many as a dozen food trucks in Boulder by this summer. City staffers said they've received inquiries from at least 45 potential truck operators.
Rayme Rossello, owner of the Comida food truck, offers upscale Mexican fare from inside her converted pink delivery truck.
"I am excited to be a part of this new culture in Boulder," she said. "The process that's being created ... is a great first step in the right direction."
But she questioned the need to keep food trucks from operating downtown.
"I believe that there should be a place for mobile vending downtown," she said. "The prohibition against mobile vending at parks seems to equally miss the mark."
The changes have come too late for at least one of Boulder's food truck owners.
Chef Hosea Rosenberg has said he and other officials decided to shut down StrEat Chefs, a company launched last year to serve international street fare from an Airstream trailer. Rosenberg said the company decided Boulder's regulations would be too restrictive.
Contact Camera Staff Writer Heath Urie at 303-473-1328 or firstname.lastname@example.org.