It’s time for the municipal government in Seaside Park to step up and allow the free market to flourish once again! Since 2010 there’s been a ban on food trucks having access to Ocean Avenue. It’s been said that the ban was about public safety and possibly to protect the restaurants already established in the town.
Notwithstanding the provisions of any ordinance to the contrary, no trailer or semitrailer designed for the hauling or transportation of goods or merchandise, or truck tractor designed for the hauling of such trailer or semitrailer, shall be located, maintained or stored on any premises, or any street in the Borough of Seaside Park, whether resting on wheels, blocks, or other support, except for the active delivery of goods, equipments and/or material to such premises.
The ban has even prompted a petition to the municipal government in order to make an exception for Ice Cream trucks. There are 339 signatures hoping to amend the ban. The mayor of Seaside Park is Robert Matthies and he mentioned to NJ101.5 that he was not in office when the ordinance was amended to ban the food trucks, but believed that residents were concerned about safety.
Either way, there are laws that exist and are enforceable to address public safety, parking spaces that in prior years had been allotted to food trucks and the power of the local government to issue permits that will create an orderly entrance of food trucks into the beach market.
The petition doesn’t go far enough. Why would only ice cream trucks be allowed? What about the local brick and mortar ice cream shops? They have to fend for themselves yet the pizza and taco guys would be protected by government from competition? How about going 180 degrees in the other direction and allow the market to decide?
I’m an avid Jersey Shore beachgoer and spent most of my childhood summers walking the three blocks from my grandparents house in Sea Isle City to the beach. It’s a tradition that my wife and I continued as our own kids grew up long after the old house was gone. Renting became an annual vacation, typically returning to Sea Isle. There are two things that struck me as our trek to the beach became more and more cumbersome with chairs, toys and food. THe first was that having a vendor walking the beach selling ice cream was awesome. The kids would do the running and for a couple bucks the sweet shore craving would be satisfied. THe second was when the hot dog cart showed up on Pleasant avenue at the entrance to the beach. Lunch without the hassle of dragging the cooler or having to return home.
People vacationing in Seaside are like every other Jersey Shore pilgrim making endless treks from house to beach. Having to rely only on brick and mortar restaurants requires a much longer walk, potentially a shower and definitely a little more cash. With a food truck right on Ocean avenue the convenience of having lunch steps away comes back.
The restaurants won’t suffer because they are not necessarily meeting the demand of the renters and homeowners who just want a quick snack without having to uproot the beach encampment of chairs and umbrellas. As a matter of fact, the return of food trucks could very well drive more day trippers and renters helping local restaurants thrive for families looking for alternatives to the vendor truck food. With the town more attractive to more people, what about the potential of boosting sales of daily and seasonal beach tags? Seems the positives far outweigh the negatives here… Revenue for the city from beach tags and vendor licenses, convenience for hungry beachgoers, job opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs, parking fees from increased traffic…and how about all those increased t-shirt and novelty sales?
Let me add one more thing…why not draft beer? In my New Jersey there’d be a beer truck next to the pork roll truck…right at the entrance to the beach. Now that’s how to do the Jersey Shore.
C’mon, it’s time to #FreeTheFoodTrucks. Vote in our online poll if you get a minute:
— New Jersey 101.5 (@nj1015) April 4, 2016
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