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Bastrop crafting new food truck ordinance

For 16 years, Richard Giro and his wife had one of the city’s prime parking spots for their food trailer business, Snowball Express.

Giro had become known for serving up New Orleans-style shaved ice snowballs from out the window of his custom-made trailer, which customers could always find alongside Bastrop’s Finest Car Wash during the spring and summer months. But last September, Giro felt that at age 74 it was time to retire from the snowball business, and his food trailer now sits idly in his yard.

Since his retirement, no other mobile food vendor has taken Snowball Express’ former location, which is an easy stop for drivers traveling along Texas 71. That’s in part because of Bastrop’s onerous and antiquated permitting process for food truck businesses.

“People are having trouble getting permits,” Giro said. “Nobody’s reappeared at the car wash, although dozens of people inquired about it before we shut down.”

Meanwhile, city officials are crafting a new ordinance that would create a permitting process that would make Bastrop a more-welcoming regulatory environment for food truck entrepreneurs.

Anyone who’s driven into town via Texas 95 or Texas 71 may notice the several food trucks that dot the highway shoulders or frontage roads. But mobile eateries are scant within the city limits, though with few exceptions. Similar to Giro’s Snowball Express, Yoli’s Tacos & More Catering along Chestnut Street and Shug’s BBQ along Texas 71, for instance, were grandfathered into the city’s current set of laws.

“Currently the city has an old section of code — business regulations that regard peddlers, solicitors and vendors — that’s kind of geared more toward your door-to-door salesmen or the people who set up on the roadside to sell things,” said Bastrop’s Assistant Planning Director Jennifer Bills. “It doesn’t really speak to mobile food trucks very well.”

Bills says she expects a few more months of fine-tuning a new mobile food vendor ordinance before it would go before the Bastrop City Council in the fall, including ironing out a system for health inspections through Bastrop County’s health department.

“It’s trying to model itself after others in the area. We’re not creating something wildly different than Austin or Buda or any of those cities,” Bills said.

Read the full article at Statesman.com