Obtaining a license to operate a food truck in Colorado involves meeting strict licensing requirements. But even after obtaining all the right state, county and city permits, vendors are still subject to a wide spectrum of rules that limit where, when and how they serve food. Boulder has been known for being especially stringent when it comes to guidelines for mobile food vendors. Boulder culinary schools have often been wary of starting their own food truck business in the past, but they may be more inclined in the future considering that the county has given initial approval for a set of more lenient rules.
In mid-April, the Boulder City Council gave its initial approval of long-awaited changes to rules that oversee food truck operation. Currently, food trucks with proper licensing can serve customers in approved spots in industrial and business areas as well as mixed-use zones and downtown Boulder; however, they cannot operate within 150 feet of a dining establishment or residential property, and they must close by 9 p.m. Additionally, only two food trucks are allowed in each zone. These guidelines were established three years ago as a way of creating fairness between brick-and-mortar restaurants and mobile food vendors.
The proposed rule changes would allow four trucks in downtown zones as opposed to two. Additionally, it would mean trucks could operate in city parks during the summer – areas that have previously been off-limits. The changes, however, do not address residential and late-night service – two issues that have been hot topics of debate among truck owners. Ideally, food trucks would be able to operate in downtown Boulder after restaurants close. A second vote and public hearing are expected to take place some time in May.