Thursday, August 25, 2011

Food Truck Public Comment

These are my comments at the city council public hearing on mobile food vending regulations:

"There has been some concern about enforcement expressed and I'd like to review the status of this issue. Enforcement was cited as the ONLY concern coming out of the Planning and Zoning Commission. It was the reason the commission gave these regulations a negative recommendation as a consequence of a three to three tie on the vote. The regulations then went to the Public Safety Committee for a review specifically of enforcement issues and received a unanimous vote in support of the regulations and the enforcement capabilities on the part of city staff and police. This should, in effect, nullify the three negative votes from P&Z, resulting essentially in a unaminous positive recommendation from Planning and Zoning.

Also, we should not look only to city staff and police to address the issue of enforcement. Vendors have an interest in not only following the rules themselves but in pointing out violations of those rules by others. There is a local mobile food vending coalition that can perform a watchdog function in cooperation with proper authorities. Also, the general public is integral in making these regulations work for everyone. Many instances of code violation in Asheville are complaint-driven and I don't doubt that there are plenty of local citizens who would be happy to help keep an eye out for violations and document and report them. With the public sector and the private sector partnering in a comprehensive enforcement solution, it would seem to me that this is more than adequate to address enforcement concerns."

Candidate Questionnaire: Asheville Tribune

1. Describe your leadership style.

I prefer the project management style of leadership that distributes leadership across a measurable sequence of specific activities aimed at achieving a concrete goal on a defined schedule.

2. Name three famous people with governance philosophies similar to yours.

1) Margaret Thatcher. 2) Gary Johnson. 3) Ron Paul. In that order.

3. What do you want to change in city government?

I want to change the very structure of local government. I would like to see Asheville move toward becoming a contract city in the way that dozens of other cities in the country have, such as the very successful Sandy Springs, Georgia. A contract city outsources all city services except police and fire.

4. What does the oath of office mean to you?

It means making a public and explicit personal committment to exercise policy-making power in the protection of individual rights, including property rights.

5. Where do you draw the line between property rights and community rights?

There are no community rights. Only individuals have rights. Property rights are paramount and should be protected under the rule of objective law. Communities have a strong interest in the protection of property rights. The strong protection of property rights resolves conflicts and preserves peace in a community.

6. How would you use your office to create jobs? Increase affordable housing stock? Reduce our carbon footprint?

1) It is not the proper role of government to create jobs. That is the role of the private sector. Government interference in the economy can only violate rights, destroy wealth and force capital from where it belongs to where it does not belong. The only positive influence government can have in the economy is to circumscribe its action to protecting the right of individuals to engage in productive economic activity without interference so long as that activity does not violate the rights of others. 2) Housing is unaffordable because of zoning, taxation and the high cost of construction and business-creation. We can increase affordable housing stock by reducing government-created barriers. 3) There is no need to reduce our carbon footprint.

7. What are the pros and cons of public/private partnerships?

The pros of public/private partnerships are better services, increased responsiveness and reduced costs. There are no cons.

8. What additional revenue streams would you pursue for the city?

None. The city needs to reduce costs by adopting the public/private partnership model of governance.

9. Should the economic downturn continue, what municipal expenditures would you be willing to cut?

I would be willing to cut all of them except police and fire and contract with private industry to provide basic city services in return for reduced costs and greater efficiency. Absent that, we could start with money-losers like the golf course, the civic center and street festivals.

10. If the federal government offered another round of stimulus, what would you want to procure for the city?

A stamped return envelope. Stimulus money is borrowed, stolen and counterfeited at the expense of every American, young, old and yet to come.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

City Council: Food Truck Regulation

My comments on food truck regulations at city council: #avlgov

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Candidate Questionnaire: WNC For Change

1. What do you think the Asheville Police Department should do to improve community policing that would enhance the safety of communities vulnerable to hate crimes (including race, gender and sexual orientation)?

I do not support entertaining a special category of rights for groups of similar individuals. I only support the protection of individual rights. It is the proper role of government to protect individual rights, including property rights, and the safety of all citizens of Asheville without regard to their membership in any special elevated group. However, local law enforcement must be trained to fully understand what this means in the daily discharge of their duty. It means a dispassionate and vigilant pursuit of peacekeeping and equal treatment and protection against harm regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation or any other differentiated segment of society.

2. Would you support eliminating automobile traffic from one of Asheville’s major downtown streets and converting this street into a pedestrian mall (similar to the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder, CO)?

This is something I would support but we don’t have the money. We would need to accommodate parking in surrounding areas and pay for construction, signage, traffic studies and staff time. The schedule just for repaving streets extends 81 years. New sidewalk construction is being entirely financed by debt.People prefer driving automobiles over other modes of transportation and paving streets would be my priority in the near term. If Asheville could outsource a majority of basic city services through a public/private partnership form of government, the efficiencies and savings gained would then allow us to move to second tier priorities. And I would favor the use of any surplus funds for a pedestrian mall only upon consensus from the whole community through a referendum process.

3. If elected, what are the three most important things you want to accomplish during your four year term on City Council?

1) To maintain consistent and vigorous control of over-regulation; 2) to reduce the size and scope of local government to its essentials; and 3) to encourage city government to move toward the use of private industry in providing services, leading to better services, greater responsiveness and lower costs.

4. Who are the five largest contributors to your campaign thus far, and how much did each contribute?

I have filed with the Board of Election as a campaign that will not spend over $1,000 and the contributions I receive are not subject to campaign finance disclosure or public review.

5. Do you support President Obama’s initiative to build the foundation for a green energy economy, tackle the issue of climate change and protect our environment? Explain why or why not.

The theory of global warming has been proven false and, either way, I would not support any initiative by the any government to interfere in the economy. So-called “green energy” has not been proven viable, cannot drive the energy marketplace and is not demanded by consumers. We live in a modern global industrial society and our current energy needs demand the use of oil, which is plentiful and cheap for the long term. Until an alternative can be developed by the private sector without forcible taxpayer subsidies, we must and should rely on oil. Environmental protections under prevailing conditions will require maximum economic freedom and continued technological advancement and this will only be achieved by free minds and free markets, not by government mandates, redistribution of wealth and special interest lobbying.

Green Jobs, Red Faces
The fact that President Obama's "green jobs" campaign has been an enormously expensive failure is now so glaringly obvious even the New York Times can't ignore it any longer.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Food Truck Latest

Mobile Food Vending Ordinance (Proposed) -Ed Glines, Planner II

Enforcement of Mobile Food Vending -Shannon Tuch, Assistant Planning Director

Enforcement of Mobile Food Vending -Shannon Tuch, Assistant Planning Director

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Mountain Xpress: City Council Candidates

The Unedited Interview


I'm running for city council mainly to give the citizens of Asheville a choice. I would represent balance in city hall. Secondly, it's difficult to keep up with all of the complexities of local government. It's practically a full time job. So I've decided to make it my full time job by running for a seat on council.


I'm running primarily on the issues of over-regulation and the growth of government. Over-regulation hampers economic activity and job-creation and we need to liberalize our rules and regulations. Also, current trends in the growth of government are unsustainable. According to our city manager, the cost of implementing current community plans is $200M. Road resurfacing is on an 81 year schedule. Raising taxes is not an option because it will further drive job creators and residents out of the city. Forced annexation is not an option due to recent legislation in Raleigh. Cutting down government to a bare-bones operation indefinitely is highly undesirable and a reversal of progress. I propose restructuring local government to take advantage of the proven efficiencies of private industry through the Public/Private Partnership model of governance that has been successfully implemented in many less progressive cities around the country.


Detail of the phony ban from Scrutiny Hooligan
Tim Peck | September 25, 2010
I am currently banned from the Scrutiny Hooligans community weblog, created by now-council member Gordon Smith, on the pretext that I violated commenting rules.

Monday, August 15, 2011

City Council Campaign

P&Z: Food Truck Regulation


Mobile Food Vending Proposed Ordinance Changes 7/8/11 Review

  1. New definitions:
Mobile food site means an individual parcel where mobile food vending is permitted to occur on a permanent basis

Mobile food vending means commercial food service sales by a mobile food vendor on a parcel of land outside of right-of-way areas. Sites approved for permanent mobile food vending are classified as a mobile food site.

Mobile food vendor means an individual who owns and operates a vehicle (truck or trailer with a maximum of two axles that includes a mobile kitchen that supports the sale and/or preparation of food and non-alcoholic beverages which is licensed and approved to walk-up customers.  

  1. Temporary uses (already exist in the UDO) - minor changes proposed here:
Temporary mobile food sales.  Temporary mobile food vendors, pushcarts or stands may be allowed in all non-residential districts outside of the downtown area Central Business District, corresponding to the Downtown Design Review Overlay District, provided that uses/structures for mobile food sales are compliant with the following standards.

  1. Hours of operation.  Temporary food vendors and stands shall be allowed from 6:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m. with specific hours of operation indicated on the temporary use permit. Locations within 200’ of a residential use will have reduced hours of 6:00 a.m. until midnight.

  1. Proximity to public right-of-way. All sales shall be conducted at least ten feet from all public rights-of-way.

  1. Health department approval. Any food service operation that sells, prepares or serves food must obtain an approved mobile food service permit from the Buncombe County Health Department and is subject to inspection.

  1. Display of permit.  A copy of the valid, approved permit must be attached to the exterior of the truck or mobile kitchen, in clear view of all patrons.

  1. Proposed wording amendment to make mobile vending a permanent use on a site. In order to establish this use the following regulations must be followed:

a.   Use Districts: Office, Office II, Office Business, Community Business I, Community Business II, Institutional, Highway Business, Regional Business, Central Business, River, Commercial Industrial, Light Industrial, Industrial, Urban Village, Neighborhood Corridor, Urban Place

b. Permitting: Permitting to establish mobile food vending as a permanent use will incorporate the following permits:
1. Permitting the mobile food site: Mobile food vending will only be allowed on parcels with an approved development permit with the actual number of vendors permitted dependent on site conditions and the ability to comply with spacing requirements outlined in section ‘c.’ below.
2. Permitting the mobile food vendor: A mobile food vendor is required to obtain a permit for each separately approved mobile food site where vending will occur, according to the following regulations and also meeting regulations outlined in ‘d.’ below:
a. A mobile food vendor is permitted to vend at more than a single site but each location must be approved by individual permit.  
b. The Mobile Food Vendor permits will be renewed annually along with requirements for the Buncombe County Health Department.
c. The number of permits issued to individual mobile food vendors for the downtown Central Business District will be limited to 10.  Vendors may vend from multiple locations subject to the ability to meet other requirements.
d. Mobile food vendor permits will run with the calendar year and existing vendors will have the option to renew.
e.    Mobile food vendor permits shall include the addresses and hours of operation for the business.  Hours may be changed with 48 hours notice to the Development Services Center.  
f. Permits from Buncombe County and the City of Asheville shall be visually displayed on the mobile kitchen.
g. Copies of other required permits will be submitted with the mobile food vendor permit application.
h.    Operating without a valid permit will be considered a criminal misdemeanor and enforceable as such.  Violations of the approved permit for the mobile food vendor shall be considered a violation of this chapter and subject to the enforcement and penalty provisions of article XVIII of this chapter

c. Site Improvements:  The permit to establish a mobile food site will require approval of a site plan illustrating the proposed placement of the mobile food vendor(s) and the following items:
1. Access into the site and parking for vendor patrons at the rate of one parking space per mobile food vendor (applicable only if off-street parking is required in the zoning district).
2. Landscaping- The site will be improved to meet the standard for street trees.  In addition the affected area of the site will provide a minimum eight-foot wide property line buffer* when directly adjacent to residentially zoned and used parcels.  This buffer should be planted to include a mix of evergreen and deciduous trees and shrubs to result in a vegetative screen that is 75% opaque year-round.  As an alternative, the buffer may be reduced by 50% with the installation of an opaque fence. Existing buildings that screen the impacts of the mobile food vendor(s) will be considered a substitute for the property line buffer or portions thereof.
3. Sidewalks: Sidewalks will be required along the frontage lines of the parcel if the road is designated on the City’s needed linkages sidewalk list.
4. Site maneuvering: Each mobile food vendor will need sufficient space for maneuvering onto the lot, for safe access by pedestrians, and for emergency response.
5. Setbacks: Setbacks for individual mobile food vendors will be ten feet from side and rear property lines and other parked vehicles (if any). There is not a required setback from the frontage line except that no portion of the mobile food vendor will be permitted to encroach into the right-of-way.
6. Other site features: Permitting for the mobile food site will take into consideration the ability for the primary site user to maintain compliance with minimum parking standards (if there is one) referencing the specific zoning district standards as described in the UDO.
7. Permanent electric power infrastructure is the preferred method for supplying power at the mobile food site.  If this is pursued, then the proper applicable permits must be obtained.

d. Other requirements for mobile food vendors:
        1. No mobile food vendors will be permitted to vend in a public street, sidewalk or right-of-way.
        2. All mobile food vendors are required to maintain permits issued by the Buncombe County Health Department and the City of Asheville will defer to Buncombe County for health and food safety regulations.
        3. All mobile food vendors shall leave the mobile food site when they are not in operation.
        4. Aside from festivals or special events that are permitted under separate event permits, the mobile food vendor will be required to maintain a list of the location(s) for operating the vending unit.
        5. Mobile food vendors will be limited to the sale of food and non-alcoholic drinks.  The sale of other merchandise or services will not be permitted.
        6. Mobile food vendors are encouraged to use recyclable and/ or compostable containers, cups and utensils.
        7. Hours of operation: (a) Mobile food vendors will be limited to the hours of 6:00 a.m. until midnight if they are within 200 feet of a residential use (locations in the downtown Central Business District excluded); (b.) Mobile food vendors who are not located within 200 feet of a residential use or are located in the downtown Central Business District may not operate between the hours of 3:00 a.m. and 6:00 a.m.    
        8. The mobile food vendor(s) will be required to remove trash and litter from the mobile food site each day and to maintain the cleanliness of the site during hours of operation.  The vendor must provide a minimum of one receptacle for use by patrons.
        9. The mobile food site will be subject to the outdoor lighting and noise ordinance standards established by the City of Asheville.
        10. Outside power for the mobile food vendors may be provided by electric power pedestals as a preferred method or by a generator(s) operating at 65 decibels*2 or  less and which are properly attached per manufacturer’s standards to the mobile food vehicle.  Mobile food vendors utilizing a generator may not operate closer than 100 feet to a residential use, unless the generator operates at less than 50 decibels in which case distance will not be restricted except by other setbacks.
        11. Vendors may not bring tables and chairs to the mobile food site except that a single chair may be brought by the vendor for use by staff. In addition stand-alone tents, shade clothes, steps, etc. may not be brought to the site by vendors.
        12. Mobile food vendors shall maintain 20 feet between other mobile food vendors based on fire code separation.  
        13. Vendors will be subject to random inspections to ensure compliance with all applicable requirements.
        14. Signage: Mobile food vendors may have signage on their vehicle, not to exceed 32 square feet total per vehicle including letters and/or logo advertising the business. Square footage may be divided between a maximum of two faces. No roof signs will be allowed.  A single attached menu board totaling 6 square feet is also allowed for each truck.  

Items considered but not included in the proposed ordinance:
  • Should we (or can we) restrict permits to Buncombe County residents only? If not, should there be a higher fee for non-City or non-Buncombe County residents? Not recommended at this time
  • Should there be a food truck review board of some type? Wait one year and see if there is a need.
  • Should the temporary use applicability be extended to the CBD? Not recommended at this time because this other alternative is being proposed
  • Who will be enforcing this during non-Planning Department hours? Same entity during the day? Staff is working to resolve enforcement questions and will be meeting with the Public Safety Committee
  • Need/funding/justification for an economic impact study? There are not funds to conduct an economic impact study
  • Are bathrooms required for employees or patrons? The building code does not require bathrooms for either
  • For the downtown Central Business District, there may need to be a minimum amount of time vendors must operate to keep the permit ‘active’ since the total number of permits is proposed to be limited

Additional items of concern discussed by the Downtown Commission and included in their motion to approve:
    • Enforcement of specific regulations in the ordinance and also enforcement for vendors operating without permits (addressed through ordinance amendments proposed by APD)
    • There are questions about permit fees and whether fees would be enough to cover staff expenses for enforcement (fees for full cost recovery are not typical, particularly with zoning fees.  Need for additional fees may not be necessary with assistance from APD)
    • The ordinance will need to be reviewed after a period of time to see how it is working; this period may be about 12 months or after a full operational season, or at any point in time if a public safety/welfare issue is identified

** UPDATE -- August 16, 2011 **

The regulation was reviewed by the Public Safety Committee. They were satisfied with the enforcement solutions and approved of the regulation with the addition that unpermitted vending will be considered a Class III criminal misdemeanor. Fines could amount to $500. Third violation could result in 3 months jail time.