Melbourne Fails at Street Food

What's not to love about street food, including food trucks? The ones that can be found in Melbourne (such as Taco Truck) are hugely popular as the massive lines waiting will attest to.

According to an earlier article by Chris Berg, food trucks (and street food more generally) can foster innovation, giving folk a chance to experiment without investing in ultra-expensive infrastructure.  They add vibrancy to streets and can help build social capital. 

So, why aren't there more?

Well, according to Alan Davies, we can blame existing traditional food retailers, and regulations:
"The reason food stalls are non-existent and food trucks few and far between in Melbourne is down to existing food retailers seeking to stifle competition. The City of Melbourne has approved space for only nine food trucks and, moreover, none of them are in the CBD.  The adjoining municipality of Yarra requires food trucks to keep at least 100 metres from existing takeaway businesses"
This is just one small example of how local regulations can discourage 'lighter, quicker, cheaper' initiatives that have been shown to improve public space.

Davies' post says it's not planner's business to protect local retailers by regulating against food trucks - but where the balance is between managing health and safety regulations and economics with 'lighter,quicker, cheaper' initiatives is definitely a tough one.  How can we get the best of everything in a safe and fair way? Hmm.

Read Berg's article here, and Alan Davies post on The Urbanist here.  Read more on 'lighter, quicker, cheaper' here.


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