NEW ORLEANS - It is back to the drawing board when it comes to updating the New Orleans Food Truck ordinance.
On Wednesday, Mayor Mitch Landrieu vetoed a pilot program that the City Council recently approved.
The Ye Olde Kettle Cooker serves up its signature snack at every Wednesday Night at the Square concert series. The man behind the kernels is Robert Stengl. Like other food truck operators across New Orleans, he was happy to see the city modernize its mobile vendor laws.
"It surprises me because it looked like the door was opening to acceptance of a model that works in many other cities across the USA," said Stengl.
In mid-April, the City Council voted in favor of a pilot program which would pave the way for 75 more food truck permits; require a 200-foot buffer zone from any restaurant and outline where and when food trucks can operate.
Now Landrieu has put the brakes on that plan.
"It really shows there's a resistance or push back with the mayor's reluctance to sign the bill into law that they don't really want to have food trucks in this city," said Stengl.
Landrieu's letter to the Clerk of Council cites constitutional and equal protection concerns as to why he chose to move forward with the veto.
"In his letter, the Mayor did indicate that he's supportive of the pilot program and perhaps it sounds like it needs to be amended a bit," said Rachel Billow with the New Orleans Food Truck Coalition. The group has worked with city leaders to update mobile vendor laws in the hopes of giving food trucks more leeway.
With the future of the food truck pilot program now in limbo, Billow hopes the mayor's veto won't mean having to start from scratch.
"Hopefully we can figure this out relatively quickly and it won't be a process that continues to drag on," said Billow.
Landrieu's letter to the Clerk of Council also says his staff will work with the New Orleans City Council to develop mobile food vending laws that are "legal, fair and enforceable."
Council-at-large Stacy Head, who pushed for the food truck ordinance, was not available for comment on Thursday night.