Baker City Council votes to ban food trucks at intense, emotional meeting
BAKER, La. (WAFB) - The Baker City Council in a controversial move Tuesday voted to ban food trucks and rolling vendors with some limited exceptions.
The council passed the new ordinance in a three-to-two vote.
Dr. Charles Vincent, Glenda Bryant, and Brenda G. Jackson approved the new plan to ban food trucks. Rochelle Dunn and Robert Young voted against it.
The tense meeting was filled with outbursts from the crowd and yelling between city leadership leading up to the vote.
“It is not about one individual who just happens to be the business that bought about this discussion. It is allowing us to decide where we want to move forward in the city of Baker,” Glenda Bryant, District 3 Councilwoman said.
Nancy Thomas has been the business owner at the center of this issue over the last few years.
Thomas has repeatedly tried to operate a food truck outside her retail store on Main Street, but she was told in 2020 that she could not do so because of a city ordinance that was already in place.
However, a debate over how the rule should be interpreted and enforced led to city leaders crafting a new ordinance.
“We just went through COVID-19. Food trucks were the one thing that helped many people. You look at hospitals, police departments, food trucks were the things that fed these essential workers,” a woman that was against the food truck ban said.
Councilmembers who voted against having food trucks within the city shared concerns about the lack of regulations, traffic, and poor appearance.
Those in support felt this is a revenue stream that the city could really benefit from.
Under the new ordinance, the limited exceptions that would allow food trucks include special events such as festivals, carnivals or large-scale celebrations.
“I’m disappointed. Baker is trying to grow. Our mayor is trying to do the best he possibly can, but it’s hard. It’s hard when you have a board that sits 5, and you have 3 against you,” Rochelle Dunn, District 2 Councilwoman said.
Thomas said she cleaned out her savings just to keep her food truck afloat amid this ongoing issue for the last two years.
Now, she’s deciding to take her business elsewhere outside of Baker city limits so she can continue to operate and support her family.
“Now that I’m not able to be at my place of business still hurts. I’m hurt and upset about it, but I have to come to peace with it,” Thomas said.
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