Mobile Food Vendor Ordinance passes, despite hang-up at July City Council Meeting

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At the July City Council meeting, one of the items of contention from the agenda was the passing of a new mobile food vendor ordinance for the City of Minden. While initially seeming to have failed based on Councilman Vincen Bradford of Dist. C stating it needed a two-thirds majority vote to pass. The day after, City Attorney Jimbo Yocom cleared things up, stating that a simple majority was all that was needed for the ordinance to pass.

This ordinance clearly defines what a mobile food vendor is within the City’s laws as a food service that is mobile and located upon or within a vehicle, or which can be pulled by a vehicle, or which can be pulled or pushed by human or animal power, where food or beverage is cooked, prepared, and served. 

The ordinance also defined specific regulations pertaining to them such as where they can and can’t be placed, such as 50 feet from other restaurants or intersections if operating on public property, limiting the amount of space taken to two parking spots, providing trash receptacles for use by customers, etc. 

“If there’s a food truck but it’s not mobile, is that classified?” asked Councilman Terika Williams-Walker of Dist. B, providing an example of Seafood Empire.

Mayor Terry Gardner responded, “They are mobile because they have tires, and have the ability to take it to a ballpark or festival or something like that.”

“But he has another trailer for that,” retorted Walker. “But it is on wheels, and you can pull it,” responded Gardner. “So as long as it’s on wheels, it’s considered a food truck, even if it is stationary.”

Councilman Michael Roy of Dist. D afor further clarification asked, “So if the wheels come off of that trailer, then it falls under a restaurant?”

“If the wheels come off and axles are removed, and the front tung is removed, where it becomes like a stationary building,then it would become a restaurant,” said Gardner.

After the discussion, the council voted three to two in favor of passing the ordinance. Those in favor being Councilman Wayne Edwards of Dist. A, Councilman Roy of Dist. D, and Councilman Pam Bloxom of Dist E. Those opposed included Councilman Williams-Walker and Councilman Vincen Bradford of Dist. C. 

After declaring the vote as having passed, Councilman Bradford stated that the vote had failed due to new City Ordinances needing two-thirds vote in order to pass. 

Wednesday the City Attorney Jimbo Yocom cleared up the confusion, stating that the law is clear that a two-thirds majority is not required.

“After researching the question of the number of councilmembers that must vote in the affirmative to adopt an ordinance, the law is clear that a two-thirds majority is not required. The City Charter is silent as to the voting requirements for the adoption of an ordinance. As such, we must turn to the Revised Statutes. Pursuant to La. R.S. 33:406, a simple majority vote of the council is required to effectively adopt the ordinance,” the City Attorney stated in his letter to the Mayor. “Consequently, the “Mobile Food Vendor” Ordinance did in fact pass and is lawfully adopted.”

Given the confusion that arose at the Council Meeting between what separates a restaurant and mobile food vendor, Economic Director Phillip Smart, who initially proposed the ordinance, recommended that the definition for a restaurant be amended into the ordinance for further clarity.

 “The restaurant definition was not put into the ordinance. I feel that for everyone’s benefit, the ordinance should be amended and restaurant definition should be added, so we can have a clear understanding of the difference between a restaurant and a mobile food vendor,” said Smart.

The monthly City Council meeting is held on the first Monday of each month starting at 5:30 p.m. located at Minden City Hall. The meetings are open for the public to attend.

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