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A Taco Truck on Every Corner, or Not? (a2civic.tech)
167 points by badrequest 5 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 105 comments

I feel like a municipality should have to create these maps when proposing legislation, and maintain them on an [annual?] basis

There are so many areas of our lives where its becoming de facto impossible to comply with all the laws/regulations without devoting an unreasonable amount of time/resources towards compliance

To be fair, this original draft ordinance was FOIA'd. Our Ordinance Revisions Committee looked at it at a recent meeting and made some substantive changes. Then our awesome Planning Commission looked over it last night and, with the input of our City Planner, had some really good discussion about things like the number of food trucks you can have per number of parking spaces as well as discussing interactions with residential and mixed-use zones.

The Planning Office also released a map of the updated zones allowed under the ordinance, which, if you ignore setbacks, should include every parcel that isn't straight residential. I believe it was our City Planner who mentioned that someone had FOIA'd the updated map about 20 minutes before the Planning Commission meeting. I only wish I could've mapped it sooner! ;)

They'd probably benefit by making it easier to enforce, so I agree that they should absolutely do this. This assumes easy enforcement is what they are looking for.

This didn't even cover things like how county and city sales tax can change if you move to the other side of a street. Also doesn't account for the fact that each different level of government (state, county, city) may have different licenses, so you might have a license to sell on one side of the street, but not the other, regardless of zoning.

I've been considering potential targets for "radical deregulation." An experiment in getting rid of all licensing and certifications and just "see what happens." The risk here is too many taco trucks, and some minor fear of food poisoning. Personally, I'd be willing to accept that in exchange for massive increase in consumer choice and greater opportunity for small businesses to get out from under corporate overlords.

You can find "radical deregulation" in this exact field throughout the developing world, and it's one of the things that keeps drawing me back. It's wonderful. You can find all sorts of of people selling all sorts of delicious stuff at rock bottom prices and when you buy it it's not only made by the same people who own the stand, but also of course directly supporting these people so it even feels better just spending money at these places.

In my experience food regulation does very little for food safety. When somebody opens a stall to sell food, they generally know how to cook very well. And a single incidence of bad food is enough to put somebody out of business. These places all develop regulars, and when they lose a regular - it hurts. Sell unclean food, and your regulars are gone. And people also talk, meaning you may lose customers that didn't even come that day.

All in all in something like a decade of travel in developing nations, I got food poisoning once. Ironically it was from a western targeted fast food chain! I've never gotten sick from eating at 'street food' vendors literally thousands of times, excepting the early months when you first move to a place that's mostly just your body adjusting to all the new microbial stuff that's present even in clean food.

And in many ways, I think the direct ownership provides far greater safeguards than a mountain of rules and regulations. Because in the end those rules and regulations mean absolutely nothing when some detached worker decides not to wash their hands after coming back from the toilet. That and the fact that they are generally going to locally source their ingredients, whereas McCorporate Burger is going to see where they can find the cheapest substance that can legally be classified as meat that passes taste tests, and then import it by the ton.

"Bad food" isn't the issue. Lethal food poisoning is the issue - a single instance of contamination can kill a number of people and make a larger number very unwell.

This idea that small businesses are somehow exemplars of food hygiene is nonsense.

Some of the oldest laws made relate to food safety.

The FDA did not exist until the early 20th century and laws relating specifically to food were scant before then. They've been quick to pile them on like crazy since then, but they don't actually have much of an effect when you look at comparative rates. According to the CDC [1], in the US each year 48 million people get sick from bad food, and 3,000 die. Worldwide rates according to the WHO [2] are 600 million ill, and 420k deaths. The US has 4.37% of the world's populations, so our normal expected value would be 26.3 million ill and 18,381 deaths.

So in terms of getting sick from food, we actually score substantially worse than the entire rest of the world. Our death rates are 6x lower than expected which sounds very good, but I think that's unlikely to be attributable to the FDA. Our relatively large rate of foodborn illness is more of an annoyance than anything. But an annoyance for us us is something that kills people in rural areas with less knowledge and less access to resources. In particular the way people die from food poisoning is not some crazy hyper virulent strain of some hyper dangerous ailment or whatever. It's just plain old diarrhea from bad food -- something that's practically unheard of in the developed world. A couple of bottles of gatorade, lots of water, and some pepto turns diarrhea into a mild annoyance for at most a few days for those in developed areas. But for those without access to resources or the knowledge of how dangerous plain old dehydration actually can be, it can kill quite quickly.

And in any case this is primarily going to be people cooking their own food at home and making themselves sick. I'd strongly recommending traveling to the developing world. I certainly never would have taken anything I've said at face value before. But living life in a different way makes you appreciate both the things we do right, and the things we do wrong. And having a million regulations on food for the sake of safety that doesn't even really materialize is something I think we are doing very wrong.

[1] - https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/index.html

[2] - http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/food-safe...

The food truck laws in Michigan in general are pretty annoying. You need to have a commissary kitchen where all the food is actually made in order to be in compliance. Which defeats one of the main points of having a food truck to begin with(not having to rent or own an expensive building)

New York (City) as well, IIRC. Street-side cooking is more akin to heating up already prepared food. San Francisco, too. While it seemingly defeats the purpose, the flip side of the argument is that it is easier to ensure base levels of hygiene.

The article itself, btw, is a pretty nifty use of PostGIS viz.

Edit: Originally had all of California included but it was pointed out that my knowledge was limited to San Francisco as LA does not have the same requirements.

Food can and is cooked at the cart or truck. Though there may be a regulation regarding prep, no idea. I used to visit a burger truck every Friday off Water St in down town, Frites n Meats. They cooked the burgers and fries on the spot. Every other food truck I've patronized also cooked and served fresh food.

The carts simply have no prep space so they prep the food at a kitchen. I frequent one halal cart here in Queens, Shah's, and have many times witnessed the delivery van pull up and drop off food. I've also seen them cut open a vacuum sealed bag of raw marinated meat, pour it over the grill and start cooking. Delicious.

In Los Angeles, food trucks must be parked at a commissary, but it isn’t required that food prep be done there.

Yup. Food trucks in my area (LA County, but not Los Angeles itself) definitely cook in their trucks, but they effectively cluster into what I call "food truck cafeterias", side streets that seem to be set aside for food truck usage.

It's actually pretty convenient, since two streets over from my office there's usually a dozen or so trucks all available on a low-traffic street.

Ah, I might have been too over-reaching. I know it's certainly true in San Francisco.

I’m not so certain. I know of prominently-positioned pizza trucks in SF that are clearly cooking their pizzas there. I doubt they are doing that illegally.

"All mobile food vendors must operate in conjunction with a food facility, also known as a commissary, such as a licensed commercial kitchen. Thus, you will need to rent a commercial space for preparing food, and storing your inventory."


Another commenter mentioned that there may be various classifications of food such that a Pizza truck may be able to get around it due to the nature of the ingredients but I'm unfamiliar as to where those lines are drawn

A lot of the laws differentiate between foods that are dangerous when left out (eg meat) and those that aren’t (pizza supplies). I think it’s called cottage food laws?

But the other main point of having a food truck is to avoid all sorts of regulations on food safety, hygiene, waste disposal, etc. (which is why they are also known as "roach coaches"). So yes, those ordinances do largely defeat the purpose of food trucks.

And here I thought the main point of having a food truck is to sell essentially the same stuff regular restaurants do, but with extra markup for the hipster factor.

If you assume that all food trucks are violating the law anyway, how exactly are more restrictive laws supposed to help?

I'm on the side of the food trucks, but this is an easy question. It replaces the need to enforce food safety regulations, which is hard, with the ability to enforce simple bans on the trucks' existence/presence, which is easy.

If you know food trucks are doing terrible things, but you can't prove they're doing anything wrong, you can solve your problem by dropping the evidence requirement.

Not sure about Michigan, but Florida has commissary co-working type spaces. Show up with your ingredients, cook, clean-up, peace out. Most of the co-working type commissarys are pay as you go (hourly) type deals. It's common amongst Farmer Market vendors.

We have commissary co-working spaces in Georgia too, but they were pretty expensive last time I checked. I think the law here requires that you have a dedicated space that isn't shared.

> You need to have a commissary kitchen where all the food is actually made in order to be in compliance

Do you have a source for this so I can clarify my understanding? I thought that Chicago was somewhat infamous until recently for being the only major city in the US that didn't allow food trucks to cook on board.

Note that requiring that a truck have a commissary is not the same as mandating that all cooking happen there. The common requirement to have a commissary is so inspectors know where to find trucks, presumably.

Nobody is going to let you cook in a food truck where permits are required. There's just no way to do that safely with a random truck.

Even fast food franchises do all their salads centrally to avoid the Chipotle scare that happened a couple years ago.

This is also the case in Boulder, CO. In addition to that, each truck is required to install a fire suppression system that start around $3,000.

A quick search reveals https://www-static.bouldercolorado.gov/docs/Mobile_Food_Vehi...

> a restaurant fire suppression system shall be required for all cooking operations that produce grease-laden vapors. These systems can be activated automatically or manually to dispense chemicals to suppress the flames of a fire

I.e. it's not "each truck". You can have a food truck that doesn't create that particular fire hazard without an expensive fire suppression system.

Gotta love when regulations are why we can't have nice things.

If by "nice things" you mean salmonella and grease fires, then sure.

Not to defend Boulder, specifically, but when thinking about regulations it's really easy to tally up "all" of the costs and benefits without crediting them for the nonexistent costs of the bad things that didn't happen.

So instead of having each food truck pay for a monthly health inspection fee and having random health inspections every X time ( so that the cost of the health inspections is completely paid for by the food trucks), we simply outlaw them.

I'm not against regulation, I'm against broad, overbearing, and dumb regulation.

Asking for fire suppression systems in what is essentially a commercial kitchen on wheels is not unreasonable. Grease fires are really bad.

It’s just as easy easy to justify regulation by adding up all the imaginary costs that will be avoided.

Kitchen Fires and food poisoning are not imaginary.

How exactly does preparing food in the truck lead to food poisoning? Why doesn't your backyard grill need a fire suppression system?

1) If cooked food comes in contact with a surface that raw meat was prepped on, the cooked food can become tainted.

2) Most cities fire code say that your backyard grill is required to be a certain distance from the building structure (my local ordinance says 15ft), it just so happens that most people ignore the local ordinances. Those codes are b/c of grill fires.

Large portions of the world don't have these regulations and seems to be doing just fine. Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore to name a few are full of food stands preparing food at the stand.

Funny you should mention Singapore, as the government moved all of the street hawkers to "hawker complexes" and there is a lot of regulation around food hygiene[1].

[1]: http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/infopedia/articles/SIP_1637_201...

So, it's still easier to sell street food there than in Michigan?

This reads like a complaint about vaccines because nobody has seen Polio in like a lifetime...

Just as a reminder: Up until the early 20th century, any large city that wasn't home to a Molasses-based catastrophe had at some point burned more or less completely down, usually killing thousands: Chicago, SF, London are well known.

Not sure if you were alluding to this with your comment but people DO complain about vaccines because they haven't seen the widespread ill effects of their not existing

It's highly probable that the commenter to which you have responded chose their wording precisely because of how correct your point is.

California also requires a commissary kitchen.

What's the motivation behind ordinances like this? I've never spoken to anyone who likes them, so I'm not really sure why cities are so aggressive about it. I assume there must be a large segment of the population who are really bothered by food trucks for some reason, but I genuinely struggle to imagine why

Some people don't like other congregating in front of their stores and not buying anything but the most vocal opponent are restaurants. They feel like by paying substantial money for a restaurant lease, they shouldn't be subject to competition that can operate with far lower costs / standards. Think about if you owned a nice Mexican restaurant and then a taco truck parked outside during your rush hour. They have almost none of the fixed costs that you do and could undercut you pretty easily.

I'm not convinced it's worth regulating their hours/locations, but I do sympathize a bit with the brutal economics of restaurants.

>they shouldn't be subject to competition that can operate with far lower costs / standards.

Of course they should. There is no assurances or guarantees that any business venture is going to be successful.

If you're running a mexican restaurant that goes out of business because of a taco truck, the answer isn't to outlaw taco trucks, it's to make your own restaurant better.

If you can't change your restaurant and you go out of business isn't it your fault for not adapting to customer tastes and preferences, not the taco trucks fault because it was able to satiate customer needs?

With your line of reasoning, I guess a rich person thinking of opening a restaurant could follow following strategy.

1. Get a few food trucks and park them in front of all potential competitor restaurants. Sell subsidized food.

2. Wait till these restaurants close because they can't compete with the subsidy.

3. Start their own restaurant selling really bad food at expensive prices.

4. Profit.

This is the same kind of strategy that tech giants often follow to push startups out of business. Obviously, my example strategy is extreme (and possibly illegal), but food trucks can easily drive good restaurants out of business resulting in a worse culinary scene in the city. The purpose of the regulation being discussed here is to eliminate such bad forms of competition that result in worse outcomes in the long term.

This situation is in no way unique to food trucks though. I could buy the property next to your restaurant and make it into an exact clone of your place and give away all my food for free until you're out of business.

And yet I don't see anyone out there arguing in favor of laws banning copycat restaurants.

If I can run a food truck and sell food at a lower cost to people who have to stand outside while they eat, and they prefer that over the experience you provide in your restaurant, the customer is not wrong. Good restaurants, by definition do not go out of business.

> I could buy the property next to your restaurant

This requires a substantial investment. It is in no way comparable.

> This requires a substantial investment.

If there is an established profitable business case, financing will be widely and easily available.

Selling at a loss to drive competitors out of business is a time-honored tradition that can be done without food trucks.

It’s also a time-honored trope that has very little evidence of being a reliable method to drive competition out of business.

5. Since the strategy was so effective before, other competitors come in and do the same thing.

6. Now whenever there is an overpriced restaurant, I get delicious, below-cost food from the upstart food trucks.

---- OR ---

5. A new competitor, seeing the overpriced food, sees a profit opportunity and tries to execute the same strategy.

6. The same business from step (1), again does me a favor by providing me delicious food below my expected price.

What is so special about your hypothetical rich person that they become immune to competition or threat of competition upon reaching step 4?

An economy is a complex dynamic system. More importantly, it is continuous. We can certainly analyze fixed time periods and draw conclusions from these, but any conclusion must be drawn in the full understanding that there is a before and an after.

TL;DR Competition doesn't go away because one person did it well, once. Threat of competition can be as effective as actual competition.

The purpose of the example was to illustrate was that in the long term equilibrium, the only food options will be food trucks, cheap+bad restaurants and expensive restaurants. Medium price/quality restaurants die out. Also, food trucks usually only run during the day, leaving residents with the option of either cheap+bad restaurants or expensive restaurants in the evening. That is pretty bad situation that should be avoided.

The purpose of my reply is to explain how there can be equilibrium and competition even in the face of a seeming monopoly.

The critical thing is that threat of competition is as effective as competition when there are low barriers to entry.

"Undercut and then raise prices" is not a terribly creative strategy - no offense, but you are not the first to come up with it, nor will you be the last. Since it is an obvious strategy, it is always a hanging threat to any restaurant or food truck proprietor. Artificially high prices are not a stable long term equilibrium.

If you are so certain that there is a neglected middle in the restaurant market, then open a restaurant and serve medium-quality food at prices a bit higher than medium-quality prices. It seems to me that if the world you posit that we live in exists, that there should be huge profit opportunity in such a market.

Anecdotally, in my travels everywhere I have been has multiple food options. This spans from small towns of a few thousand to large cities. These options tend to span a price range that is reasonable based on income demographics of the locations they are in.

>Medium price/quality restaurants die out.

People's preferences are not wrong! If people no longer want to give patronage to any kind of establishment that establishment is not entitled to continued business.

Under what circumstances should a restaurant go out of business if not these in your opinion?

The long term equilibrium will be that places to eat that attract people's business will continue to flourish.

That sounds illegal for reasons that have nothing to do with food trucks.

Which part sounds illegal to you?

The restaurant's argument would be that the food truck is unfair competition, because it's using public resources (street space to park, pavement for buyers, city cleaners to cleanup food remains), whereas they have to pay for private space, cleaning crews, etc.

I suspect it’s more like, 99% of the population is indifferent, a small number of people care a lot (in this case, it’s probably restaurant owners), and elected officials do what the small number wants because they’re the only ones voicing any sort of opinion. (And they probably donate to campaigns.)

This is a well-known phenomenon in political science---Mancur Olson, "The Logic of Collective Action," is the relevant read: small groups that can generate group-specific benefits (like suppressing competition for their businesses) have a much easier time carrying out organized political activity of all kinds rather than large diffuse groups trying to create public benefits (like food truck availability)

> I assume there must be a large segment of the population who are really bothered by

You could fill in the blank after 'by' and there will be people who turn up at planning meetings or city council meetings to deliver spittle flecked rants about how it'll be the death of the city.

I'm of two minds they are either:

A. A clever way of effectively outlawing something without saying as much (because the legislator understands the implications but has cover as they are "merely keeping them out of residential neighborhoods")

B. The unintended consequences of a legislator not understanding the ramifications of their own [well intentioned?] proposal

My cynical reaction is that restaurants back them to get rid of competition.

Not hard to see why people wouldn't want food trucks in a residential area.

It is for me. Why wouldn't you want a food truck parked outside the neighborhood park? Walk down to the park and pick up some dinner instead of hopping in a car and driving 10 minutes to apple/chilis/etc.

> Why wouldn't you want a food truck parked outside the neighborhood park?

Noise, smell, litter, crowds, extra traffic, taking up space from people who wanted to use the park, fumes from generators or burners... lots of reasons.

> instead of hopping in a car and driving 10 minutes to apple/chilis/etc

I mean these aren’t really the only two options are they, come on.

The same dynamic that results in zoning that prohibits food trucks also results in large swathes of residential area in suburbs with no real restaurant options inside walking distance.

I would expect that food trucks would naturally stay away from such areas due to economics, anyway. You need to draw a lot of people, and there aren't a lot of people who are going to travel to visit a specific food truck, so you need passersby which means you need density and activity.

Suburbs almost by definition have very little that's walking distance. One house per family makes everything very spread out and far away - in exchange for everyone having a lawn and a backyard that's 'theirs'.

Many suburbs aren't like that though -- they are just parts of a city that are outside official city limits and not those sterile "Stepford Wives" dystopias. I live in a suburb of Washington DC that is basically as dense as the the city itself and full of apartment buildings, restaurants, bars, and Metro station all within walking distance.

Our Planning Commission addressed this a bit last night (since this ordinance goes to them first for a formal vote, although last night was just a working session for discussion). The consensus seemed to be that although some people were in favor of no zoning restrictions (which I agree with, personally), those same members felt that it was too big of a challenge for this ordinance.

Our Planner also clarified that food trucks are still bound by nuisance ordinances, e.g. for noise and fumes. Granted, claiming a fume nuisance is somewhat difficult, but we already do have laws for residential areas covering things like that. Planning Commission was also concerned about noise and exhaust from things like generators, which could very well happen in your neighbor's yard during a football game.

There's also the use argument. Food trucks are a commercial use, and operating them in a residential zone then suggests that there's a certain commercial use in a zone that, for better or worse, isn't supposed to have that use (as I understand it). As much as we'd like more mixed use, that sort of thing might not work for now. The City also acknowledged that when you mix uses like that, especially in a residential area, it can be contentious for neighbors.

All in all, I imagine they'll leave in the restriction about residential zones, which I think is fine for now. Right now, food trucks aren't specifically legal anywhere in the city, so this ordinance would be a great first step, even if we have to take some more steps later.

just a suggestion but in downtown San Diego, the City blocks off a street for a week and invites a dozen or so food trucks to come park there. They make an event out of it and staff it appropriately with extra clean-up and such. Huge, huge hit with the folks who work in the buildings nearby.

Maybe get a few of the truck owners to band together and ask Ann Arbor to try out something like that.

I guess I'm imagining a couple of trucks parked along the edge of a fairly stand-alone neighborhood park that has plenty of parking.

I can think of multiple concrete locations where this would work great without causing a nuisance.

Of course, I don't doubt that there are also more dense and/or differently configured suburbs where this wouldn't work as well.

> I mean these aren’t really the only two options are they, come on.

In many places those are the two options that a) aren't fast food or pizza, b) are family-friendly, and c) within 10 minutes of a large number of houses. Especially in parts of the country that drink more heavily, it's hard to find restaurants that satisfy (b)... tons of restaurants have a very bar-y atmosphere for most of the night.

I mean, feel free to disagree. But... from personal experience, yes, these places exist.

The park here permits a concession trailer (and multiple food trucks during events).

I expect in Ann Arbor that some of the motivation is street parking, of which there is not nearly enough in areas with student houses. And then additionally the disruption of traffic on the narrow residential streets.

The parcels that can have food trucks are near restaurants, so I think they aren't the issue.

Same reason why most people don't want restaurants or businesses in their neighborhoods, and why zoning exists in the first place. The slight hit in convenience is usually acceptable so residential streets are free from noise, crowds, traffic, waste etc.

Only in the US. Restaurants are embedded in residential areas everywhere I've been to.

I’m guessing these laws are made by people who don’t eat at food trucks.

A food truck seems completely benign to you and me. But I bet if one decides to park itself right outside your window it can have a dramatic effect on your quality of life.

Not if the food is good!

Standup restaurants have a lot of fixed cost requirements especially with the local health departments. Also there are many local taxes on top of sales tax for restaurants.

Food trucks bypass a lot of this overhead, and it isn't fair to the restaurants. A case of food poisoning can affect a large number of people as well. Lost wages, hospital visits, etc.

Any data on food poisoning rates from food trucks vs restaurants?

I don't really get why they wouldn't want food trucks to be near residential parks and such. I'm also curious if this would effectively ban residential area ice cream trucks.

My guess is wanting to avoid the downsides of parks turning into backdoor commercial food courts and possible maintenance annoyances as residential parks have trashcans filled far less frequently than disposable dish only restaurants. And ice cream trucks usually spend less time stopped I believe (it could vary by urbanization as well).

The Planning Commission had a working session last night where they discussed lots of these issues, including ice cream trucks (everyone was very concerned about accidentally banning ice cream trucks heh). I forget what the conclusion was, but our City Planer mentioned that ice cream trucks operate in a public right-of-way (the road) and aren't parked on private property to serve food. I think they're going to revise the ordinance for clarity, though, because an ice cream truck and a food truck serve different purposes, I'd argue.

Personally, I wouldn't mind banning ice-cream trucks. Where I used to live in queens, at about 8:30-9:00PM an ice-cream truck would drive down our street with ear piercingly loud music, and start our kids complaining that they want some after we'd just got them to settle down for the night.

I work at a large employer with 150 employees and no real cafeteria. So there a food truck makes sense. They only do 1 hour at our gate. Quick money. Plus fastfood is a 10 minute drive so a captive audience. They just need to be reliable. Otherwise I pack a lunch. So other use cases are weird to me. I can see festivals. But the food trailer out front Lowes. Who eats there? I rarely see customers waiting...

The food truck in front of Lowes is probably there for day laborers.

Really good article, great idea for a blog too "A site dedicated to exploring Ann Arbor civic engagement through technology."

Thanks, I appreciate it! I've never been HN famous. Ann Arbor has a vibrant tech scene and a responsive local government, which makes it a fantastic environment to use technical skills to get involved, I think. I already have a few ideas about what to do next (I know at least one person who was interested in seeing a heat map of building permit issuance, which would be pretty cool).

a2civictech you've been shadow banned for whatever reason.

I clicked "vouch" on their comments so I think they should be visible now? I'm not 100% sure how that system works.

I love taco trucks, and I'm a pretty picky eater. My probably weekly order is about: 6 tacos asada, no salsa, 4 jalepenos, radishes and extra limes. Maybe a plate of rice. Proceed to cover the taco in deadly amounts of salt and lime. What I can't ever seem to do is find a "street taco" in a mexican restaurant that's near as good tasting.

Great article! How did you manage to visualize those maps?

Thanks! Indeed, I used QGIS for visualization and PostGIS for the processing (with a wee bit of ogr2ogr for some data munging). I really want to do something with OpenLayers to make things a bit more interactive (or at least so I don't have to keep taking lots of screenshots), but that involves either serving up huge GeoJSON blobs or hosting GeoServer. I'll need GeoServer soon anyway so I might as well, but it's more backend work than I have free weekends for at the moment. It's on my list for sure, though.

By the way, hats off to the awesome QGIS, PostGIS, and GDAL (ogr2ogr) projects. I couldn't have done this nearly as easily without their efforts.

These look like maps rendered/exported from GIS software such as ArcGIS.

Those are the default color schemes for QGIS.

I'd put all my fake internet points on it that that was done in QGIS.

Pretty safe bet, since that's what the article says.

- QGIS, for quick sandboxing and ad hoc visualization - PostGIS, for the actual parcel/zone computations - ogr2ogr, for inserting Shapefile data into PostGIS

Didn't rtfa, just scanned over it and looked at the maps.

Unfortunately, I merely found the article. :)

As an A2 resident I want to thank you for this post. Awesome stuff!

Started reading the article... and realized that it was about my favorite BBQ spot in my own hometown! Hope that they can find a way to continue operation.

if this had been about LA instead of Ann Arbor, the title might as easily have started with "A French Fry truck," "A Banh Mi truck," "A Po Boy truck," "A Poke Truck" or "A Gyro Truck"

The title is referencing a phrase from the 2016 US presidential elections. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taco_trucks_on_every_corner

ok. wow. why the downvotes? what did people think this comment was trying to say?

HN isn't Reddit. Jokes that don't add something to the intellectual discussions are typically downvoted. Also asking/commenting on voting is discouraged by the rules.

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