The Las Vegas Arts District is considered to be the heart of southern Nevada’s culture. But some of their companies that the government want to use to stop competitive upstart are not haughty.
Main Street Investments II LLC owns vacant lot in downtown Las Vegas. She wants to make more profitable use of the land by creating space for food trucks to park and sell. Cities across the country, including Austin, Texas and Knoxville, Tennessee, have similar food truck parks.
The attractiveness for potential customers is obvious. The number of restaurants available would immediately increase. It can even attract more people to local businesses. Food truck owners also think this is a good opportunity.
“I fully support this project because we limit ourselves to where we can park,” wrote Kurt Zetsch from Meats Gone Wild in comments to the city officials. “I hope you too will support these efforts to give us more opportunities to make a living in today’s world.”
Attorney Dan Lovell, whose office is next to the vacant lot, called the package an “eyesore”. The project, he wrote, “would increase the pedestrian traffic and business activity in the Arts District, which businesses in our area desperately need.”
This seems like a win-win-win situation. No wonder the city’s planning commission approved the project in December.
But new dining options made a certain group of people unhappy – the owners of the current stationary restaurants. James Trees, head chef at nearby Esther’s Kitchen, worked to rally the opposition. He fears that the Urban Food Lot would not have the same infrastructure as dishwashing detergent or electricity as a traditional restaurant.
The other problem is the lack of bathrooms, which is a legitimate concern. Local restaurants shouldn’t have to provide bathrooms for non-customers. Paul Murad, who represents the owners of the property, said investors own a building nearby that has bathrooms available.
“The opposition is using the bathroom as an excuse because they believe the commissioners can jump on them,” Murad said. He believes most of the project’s opponents are really concerned about the competition.
It is a reasonable conclusion. Using the government to limit competition is a tried and tested tactic. In its last session, the city council delayed the deliberation.
There’s no reason the city and these investors can’t come up with a solution to the toilet problem. Promoting food truck entrepreneurs should be a priority, especially since the hospitality industry has suffered during the pandemic. Councilors should seek solutions and not allow existing restaurants to stifle their potential competition.