Editorial: More food trucks in Summit County would be welcome — with the right oversight
Some of the most popular food trucks in the Salt Lake Valley appear to be coming to Summit County.
That much is clear as the Utah Legislature has taken action over the last two years to loosen regulations for food trucks and prevent municipalities from blocking them in areas where brick-and-mortar restaurants are allowed.
In response, county officials have spent months discussing how to regulate food trucks in places like the Snyderville Basin, where they have previously been banned. And while the mere sight of a food truck would be enough to bring many hungry Parkites running, not everyone is hankering to get in line.
Some in Park City’s restaurant industry have come forward with concerns. For one, they say an influx of food trucks, which can operate without the overhead of a permanent location, would take away customers from their businesses.
It’s not surprising that restaurateurs are frustrated with the idea of food trucks swarming the Basin — but their worries are valid. Park City’s restaurant industry is an important player in the local economy, both supplying decent-paying jobs to hundreds of workers and standing as one of the top reasons tourists choose to vacation here.
Restaurant owners also pointed out that the county will not be able to collect taxes from mobile vendors that come in from other areas of the state and that regulating them could be costly for the Summit County Health Department.
At the same time, food trucks are incredibly popular. Many residents and visitors would be delighted to see them in places like Kimball Junction. For some, they would be just one more reason the Park City area is a great place to visit and live.
County officials, then, have a tricky task ahead of them. Their hands are somewhat tied by the new laws, but they must attempt to regulate food trucks in a way that acknowledges their popularity while also factoring in the importance of limiting damage to restaurants and the potential for a chunk of lost tax revenue and increased inspection costs.
Some ideas officials have explored include allowing food trucks only in specific locations in the Basin, as well as limiting their hours of operation and the number of trucks that could operate at the same place at once. Both measures would be a good start, but even stricter regulations are needed if compliant with the law to ensure food trucks are not, as County Councilor Doug Clyde put it, set up to run 365 days a year.
Well-regulated food trucks in Summit County will be a welcome sight. Many of us are surely salivating at the thought. But let’s avoid a fate where we end up having too much of a good thing.