Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe
To no one's surprise, the food truck ordinance passed almost unanimously in today's City Council meeting, with one nay coming from the 45th's John Arena, who described it as "restraint of trade."
Much has been said and written on how shitty the law is, how it doesn't help start-up food trucks at all, but rather protects the interests of established brick and mortar restaurants. It does that, just to cite one example, by prohibiting trucks from parking withing 200 feet of those restaurants, under penalty of fines starting at $1000. Just so you know where the majority of the city's concern lies, it isn't with you, consumer. That's four times the penalty of a health code violation.
But hey, now trucks can cook on board. You just won't be able find any downtown unless it's at one of a handful of permanent stands—not determined yet—where a couple of trucks can park for a few hours at a time.
So yes, it is a far more restrictive and inhibiting ordinance than the one was first proposed two years ago by 32nd ward alderman Scott Waguespack. You know, the one that gave dozens of entrepreneurs the hope and inspiration to buy their own trucks and start rolling. I wonder how many truckers would have jumped in the business back then if they knew it would turn out like this.
"This is not the end," quoth the mayor, who promised to revise the law—like say, if Glenn Keefer decides he needs a 300-foot rule.
And indeed, some alderman are already looking at regulating other kinds of street food purveyors. Said Waguespack: "I promised Alderman Suarez I would discuss working toward a solution to set standards for the consideration of the creation of businesses like pushcart owners. But we won't tackle that today, we'll wait a little bit."
If the food truck ordinance is any sign of the city's well-documented obtuseness toward small food industry entrepreneurs, then pushcart vendors should be worried. Then again, the eloteros have a long and proud history of backing down dumb laws.