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Friday, April 10 • 9:50am - 10:30am
PS4.0 Tacos, Generators, and Revitalization: How Oklahoma City Food Truck Vendors Navigate Local Regulation

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The presence of food trucks in Oklahoma City has increased rapidly over the past few years, and food trucks appear to play a role in the revitalization efforts of several commercial districts in Oklahoma City through the use of regular street festivals. One monthly event in particular has even been titled “America’s Largest Food Truck Festival.” However, Oklahoma City’s food trucks have worked to overcome restrictive ordinances and the concern of local public health officials, including an armed raid by local health officials on a street festival in 2011. This study seeks to identify the regulatory barriers for food trucks in Oklahoma City, and how the city’s food truck operators perceive, manage and overcome these barriers. Qualitative methods, including semi-structured interviews with local food truck operators and participant observation of food truck sites and street festivals, are used in this study to examine how these regulations play out in public spaces. Initial findings have shown an active community of food truck operators who have worked with local officials to change several restrictive policies. Another finding has shown commercial district organizations and business improvement districts as key partners in securing permission to use public space and mitigating tensions with brick and mortar restaurants. Though current literature on food trucks and street vending in the United States has generally argued for a more laissez-faire approach to regulating food truck vendors, this study has shown Oklahoma City food trucks to successfully operate within a formalized network of permits, inspections, and dialogue with local officials.

avatar for James Eldridge

James Eldridge

University of Oklahoma
I'm an City Planning Master's student interested in public space, street vending, food systems, and economic development.

Friday April 10, 2015 9:50am - 10:30am
Biscayne Ballroom (2nd floor)