What Food Trucks Tell Us About Land Use and Human Flourishing

The owner of the Lamai Thai food truck is making great use of overbuilt parking space off the boulevard. (BTW, congrats to Myatts for the move.) She also spent thousands of dollars to tap into water and electricity. She told me something like $10,000 for water. That’s a large investment for a food truck! And she spent thousands more on electricity and other items. This is all in addition to the truck. She’s on the parking lot of a new Asian market that obviously doesn’t fill to full capacity, like most parking lots. Perhaps this lot is overbuilt by owner’s design, I don’t know, but the market and this food truck are able to comfortably share the space, which confirms that there’s sufficient space for both. So one little message in this as far as land use is concerned: We need to stop demanding parking lots that are never used to full capacity. It not only costs the developer more, but it’s space that can be used for more economic activity. We’re paying to maintain the boulevard either way; better to get more revenue, more activity, more goods and services, more jobs — more human flourishing — on that investment.  

This entrepreneur is just one little, positive example of the free market maximizing dead space. In Thailand and other countries, those with desireable goods and services go to the masses. That’s what this owner is doing. And while her investment is large, she’s able to lease her spot from the landowner and doesn’t have to worry about all of the other items like restrooms, etc., if she chose a building to run her business. She’s her own employee. She says it’s working out for her. You can even see the incremental growth around the truck to meet customer demands and make this an aesthetically-pleasing site, as far as food trucks go. 

Yes to more of this! And the owner already knew who I was and that I’m running for city council, so that was a pleasant surprise. She brought me out some freshly-cut veggies and sauces. She was very hospitable and genuinely loves to cook. 

I’m Rick Hogaboam, and I approve of more food trucks on empty space — and let’s stop building unecessary empty space. 😉

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