Milwaukee food truck proposal; hopes to crack down on 'bad actors'

Milwaukee leaders debate where and when you may be allowed to stop by your favorite food trucks. Even before the Common Council votes on the proposed ordinance later this May, there was already a threat of a lawsuit. 

The proposal aims to crack down on so-called bad actors among food truck operators. In the Common Council files, tipster shared photos of garbage bags left after food trucks have departed. Several photos show the wear and tear on grass in one area, and one video showed a food truck plowing down a parking sign.

The proposal would allow for zones. Zone one would be in areas like downtown, which would require food trucks close at 1 a.m. – and food trucks could only be parked for six hours every 12 hours. Everywhere else, food trucks would have to close from 3 a.m. until 6 a.m. on weeknights – and 3:30 a.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday and Sunday mornings. 

"We want our food trucks to survive and thrive in the city of Milwaukee. And we want our neighbors to be content and safe. And we want our brick and mortar restaurant owners to feel supported as well," said Milwaukee Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa. "In the past, the only tool that the council was using were bans of streets, prohibitions of entire streets. And that has proven to not be popular."

Milwaukee Alderwoman JoCasta Zamarripa

A second zone would be zone two, for example, the area around Burnham Park. Zone two restrictions would limit the number of trucks, giving spots based on seniority. That raised questions for a food truck operator who opened a new truck in the past year.

SIGN UP TODAY: Get daily headlines, breaking news emails from FOX6 News

Karla Martinez and her husband saved their money to open up their food truck named Birrieria La Tia Juana. They live a block away from Burnham Park where they serve their food three days a week.

"This is a little hard for us, because we don’t know if we’re going to keep selling food here, or no, so that’s why we don’t know what’s going to happen with us," Martinez said. "We are a little afraid and we’re not sure what is going to happen with us."

Conservative law firm Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty (WILL) said if the proposal becomes law, they would consider all legal options. 

"What the city’s trying to do is use the heavy hand of government to essentially limit or even eliminate competition," said Lucas Vebber of WILL. 

Lucas Vebber of WILL

The proposal would also require food trucks place trash bins outside and clean up litter. It would also ban the dumping of liquid waste. Fines would be increased for those breaking the ordinance, if it becomes law.

FREE DOWNLOAD: Get breaking news alerts in the FOX6 News app for iOS or Android

The full Common Council is expected to vote on the proposal later this month.