Some of the greatest food cities in the world have reached the top of the culinary tower based almost completely on their willingness to offer food from stands, carts, and trucks. Singapore is known for its food hawker malls, and Bangkok is second to none when it comes to food carts. It’s part of the culture, and it’s a main reason why both cities have a Michelin Star food cart. The success of these food stalls and carts is partially due to the city governments, allowing individuals to openly sell their culinary creations. However, the same is not true for Tucson. In fact, the city is coming down hard and forcing a promising food truck gathering to shut down immediately.
Last year, out on 7889 East 22nd Street, The Pit opened its dusty parking lot to food trucks and patrons alike. The goal was to allow nearly a dozen food truck vendors to set up shop and to let hungry guests grab what they wanted and then relax on one of the set up benches and picnic tables. It was fully designed to be an outdoor food court. It was a perfect setup for families and groups of friends that might each want something different but wanted to eat together. It also was fantastic for food truck operators, as they could set up and service customers without trying to find an appropriate street corner or parking lot to park in.
And yet, the city of Tucson almost immediately had problems with the venue. Because there is food being offered and picnic tables set up, the city mandated the operators develop the property. And, in order to develop the property (which The Pit operators don’t own), they would need to perform site plans for surrounding properties. Basically, the city wanted operators of The Pit to pay tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars to surveyors, contractors, and other professionals in order to develop the lot, which, for anyone that has been out there, is little more than a gravel opening surrounded by bushes and small trees.
There were no documented complaints about the food truck food court, and the property was cleaned up and well-maintained. Operators also tried to work with the city in order to come to a compromise. The city ultimately refused, and as such, they mandated the entire thing be shut down and everything removed from the property. The only other viable option, according to zoning officials, was that they strip back the number of operating food trucks down to three (cutting the regular participants in half), while another option required the trucks to avoid using generators, which, for many operators, isn’t possible (especially in the summer when functioning AC is a must).
So, as of today, The Pit is no more.
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