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Viewpoints: Letters / Opinions

Food for Thought

By Austin Otis

February 25, 2019
Monday AM

The City of Ketchikan should rework its laws around operating local food trucks. The local government has placed strict regulations that food trucks are not permitted on public property and must be confined to private property (municipal codes: 9.56.040 and 9.56.055). This ordinance has not only stifled growth in entrepreneurship but has confined locals to limited restaurant options. The demand for food choices has exploded under the ever increasing tourist populations and the large influx of seasonal workers. To tame their appetites, an expansion in the local food truck industry could be a solution to a culinary dilemma. Food trucks often reflect a community’s commitment in providing good grub to its inhabitants. We don’t have to look far to find food trucks operating in other Alaskan cities such as Juneau, Anchorage, and Fairbanks. If they can have reasonable sanitation regulations and operating guidelines on food trucks, why can't Ketchikan, with a rising visitor industry of 1.2 million as of 2019?

It’s worth mentioning; that there will most likely be local businesses strongly opposed to food truck expansion due to competition amongst locally established restaurants. We saw this issue come to fruition in the case of Uber trying to operate within the community, then seeing pushback from local taxi companies. Thankfully, voters eventually approved its operations, which helped expand transportation options. We shouldn’t disregard local’s concerns about food trucks such as reduced parking spaces during the summer months, or businesses focusing too much on tourism while side stepping locals. These are legitimate arguments, which could be easily addressed in a new city ordinance that bounds food trucks within specific operating hours and areas. It should be noted that current local restaurants already make the majority of their revenue off tourism, overwhelmingly cater to tourists during the seasonal months, and would be significantly hindered if tourist customers were limited.

If or when the City of Ketchikan pursues a change in its ordinances against mobile food in favor of accommodating them, the local government could set which days and hours food trucks operate in order to strike the best deal for the community. Local residents that are wary of food truck frenzy should be able to voice their concerns about a new uncharted industry that could potentially impact the downtown area. However, many locals welcome a food truck industry that allows us to show off our unique local cuisine and would give residents another avenue to create locally based businesses.

Austin Otos,
Ketchikan Gateway Borough resident
Ketchikan, Alaska



Editor's Note:

The text of this letter was NOT edited by the SitNews Editor.


Received February 21s, 2019 - Published February 25, 2019

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