National Street Vending Initiative: Columbus, Ohio

Columbus represents one of the most active food truck scenes in the Buckeye State. Dozens of food trucks serve an impressive variety of delicious food on wheels. But this was not always the case. Before the Central Ohio Food Truck Association and IJ stepped in, it was nearly impossible to operate in Columbus. COFTA lobbied for a change in the laws that would allow them to operate and provide Columbus with the many benefits they have to offer, and the Institute for Justice sent a supporting statement to the City Council encouraging them to reform the food truck laws based on the Institute’s recommendations in Food Truck Freedom.

This sparked the city to create a Mobile Food Vendor Pilot Program that ran from June 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013. The program created 16 parking spaces for trucks less than 25 feet long that are available on a first-come, first-served basis. While not ideal, it was a step in the right direction.

But once the food trucks started rolling in Columbus the city discovered the merits to this burgeoning industry and embraced it. In April 2014, Columbus City Council passed an entirely new vending code allowing for food trucks to operate throughout most of the city. Trucks do not have entirely free roam (to operate in “congested areas,” they most reserve spaces that are made available on a limited basis) but COFTA supported the new legislation. And they weren’t alone—the Central Ohio Restaurant Association supported the new ordinance as well, proving that food trucks and restaurants truly can coexist.