SOUTH PORTLAND — Licensed food trucks will be allowed to set up shop daily at Bug Light Park and the Wainwright Recreation Complex starting May 20, when the city will dip its toe into a culinary trend that has swept the nation.

The City Council approved ordinance amendments last week that will allow food truck owners with mobile vending unit licenses to operate daily at the two city parks, as well as other municipal sites during city-sanctioned special events.

Under the modest change, food trucks will be allowed to operate from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. near the Bug Light lighthouse, off Madison Street on Cushing Point, and at Wainwright, a 66-acre complex off outer Highland Avenue that includes more than a dozen athletic fields and greenbelt trails for walking, biking, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing.

Councilor Linda Cohen sponsored the amendments after seeing how popular food trucks have been when the South Portland/Cape Elizabeth Community Chamber of Commerce hosts summer movie nights at Bug Light Park.

“If the movie night was canceled because of rain, people would write on our Facebook page, ‘Are the food trucks still going to be there?’ ” Cohen said. “I think it’s good for entrepreneurs and for the community.”

Cohen acknowledged that the city is taking a conservative approach to a trend that’s extremely popular in neighboring Portland and in cities across the country. Beyond the classic hot dogs and fried foods, food trucks today often serve gourmet, organic, ethnic or fusion cuisine that’s reasonably priced and made with fresh, locally sourced ingredients.

“I think we need to start small and see how it goes,” Cohen said. She said the range of food trucks might expand in the future to include parking spaces along Waterman Drive, near the Casco Bay Bridge, and maybe by Southern Maine Community College, as long as they weren’t close to established restaurants.

Portland has 20 licensed food trucks and South Portland has 12 – so far – including El Rodeo Go, Cannoli Joe’s, Milly’s Skillet and O’Oysters. Vendors who want to operate in South Portland may apply for a license that will go into effect May 20, City Clerk Emily Scully said.

Another ordinance amendment that goes into effect May 20 will allow food trucks to operate on commercial properties for up to three days during a calendar year without first seeking site plan review by the Planning Board, Scully said.

Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at:

[email protected]