Jack White, The Brulee Cart owner (left) and Riley Woosnam and Maddison Chadderton of Mr Burger in Yarraville Gardens. Photo: Jason South
Dirty toilets and overflowing rubbish bins have prompted a controversial crackdown on Yarraville's popular gourmet food trucks.
Yarraville Gardens used to play host to up to 18 food vendors – hawking creme brulee, burger sliders and tacos. But in October Maribyrnong council staff decided to cap the number of business allowed to trade from the public park.
The food vans, including one from Fitzroy eatery Hammer and Tong, now have to fight for one of just 10 spots.
This week Maribyrnong council said a breakdown of the park's only public toilet block was the key reason for the change in permit conditions. But in a letter distributed to food truck operators this month the council blamed "excessive dumping of rubbish" and "illegal dumping of cooking oils" for the new rule.
The cap was enforced despite council conceding they had received "very few" complaints about the food trucks, which have attracted thousands of punters to the inner-western suburb park.
The decision has caused friction between the food truck operators and the council, with food truck fans arguing the restrictions unfairly blamed the vendors for the area's rubbish and infrastructure problems.
Mr Burger general manager Maleik Edwards said while the food trucks each brought between two and three rubbish bins, there have been times when the existing bins in the area had not been emptied before the food trucks arrived for the weekend.
"Once we're full, we're full," he said. "Unfortunately, once we hit a certain limit, there's just no capacity for more rubbish."
Mr Edwards said the food truck operators had a "great relationship" with the council and was keen to work with the council to reach a solution.
Council's sustainable development director, Nigel Higgins, said the limit of 10 food vans would prevent any further breakdown of public toilet infrastructure and maintain public health and safety at Yarraville Gardens.
He said the council was also working with the food truck operators on the "ongoing issue" of waste removal, which was a condition of the permit.
"We feel very confident that the number will work – we have already received positive feedback from the food truck operators."
Up to 25 permits are available for food vans to operate in Maribyrnong despite the restrictions. Food trucks pay up to $2045 for an annual permit.
Former Yarraville resident Jess Hall, who regularly travels from Essendon to visit the food trucks at Yarraville Gardens, said the rubbish bins at the gardens were often overflowing.
But Ms Hall believes a lot of the litter was produced by large picnicking groups and private parties. She said she recently saw one group who had brought in eight slabs of Coca-Cola.
"The council isn't doing anything about [the extra rubbish]," Ms Hall said.
"There's no extra bins in the area, they don't pick up the rubbish at all on the weekends."