By Jim Clark
At last week’s general meeting of The Board of Alderman, a proposal was made to have the City Solicitor draft language to amend Article XV of Chapter 8 of the city’s Code of Ordinances to grandfather vendors who operated as food truck vendors under hawker and peddler licenses prior to the effective date of the most recent changes of the ordinance.
The order, submitted by Alderman-at-Large Dennis M. Sullivan, effectively asked that the current ordinance be amended to allow those food truck vendors who had been operating under the older form of licensing be allowed to continue doing business without being required to adhere to certain aspects of the new ordinance that would substantially impair the manner in which those businesses operate.
Specifically, the newer ordinance details procedures pertaining to storage of trucks and the cleaning of equipment used in the food vending operations. It was pointed out at the meeting that those few vendors who have operated for years prior to the implementation of the current ordinance would be hard pressed to change the ways in which they conduct business now.
Speaking in favor of the order, Alderman-at-Large Sullivan said, “The new ordinance states that a food truck vendor has to have a commissary or restaurant kitchen to clean his tools, his apparatus. I remember the debate distinctly. We didn’t want to hurt vendors that have been doing business for a long time. I was contacted recently by a neighbor, Dave Stewart from Moe’s B.B.Q Trolly’s, and the new requirements of the ordinance are overbearing for a local business owner.”
Sullivan further recalled the long talks that took place during the ordinance planning process about where vendors would store their vehicles, and that resident’s that were already operating would be allowed to do so easily. “I think that this case of having a commissary or kitchen to clean the supplies is too much for a local business owner,” said Sullivan. “Moe’s does a great job. He cleans his supplies at his house, he has a setup like that. I walk by his house on a daily basis with my dog and I don’t see a problem.”
The Alderman-at-Large expressed his wish that such local long-time establish businesses not be hurt by the new ordinance, especially those who are struggling to succeed in the current sluggish economy.
Alderman Robert C. Trane of Ward 7 concurred with Alderman Sullivan’s statements. “Moe’s been there for a long time. He’s basically part of the community. We drafted this ordinance in hopes of doing the right thing, but unfortunately we’ve hurt a local businessman. So what’s happening right now is he was told that if he continued operating he’d be fined $100 a day. So for all intents and purposes he’s been shut down. He’s not making a million dollars out there. A $100 a day, that’s his bottom-line. He’s out of business.”
Trane asked that the ordinance be held in abeyance until adjustments could be made to the ordinance, allowing Moe’s to resume operation as quickly as possible.
Alderman Maryann M. Heuston of Ward 2 spoke on the issue as well saying, “I remember long debates when we did this ordinance, and we knew that there were certain vendors that we had to craft this ordinance for to make sure that we protected them, in a way, because these can become very onerous. They can favor people who are in big business and really not favor local business owners.”
Heuston urged the Board to pursue an immediate resolution to the issue so that vendors such as Moe’s could resume operation right away.
“Dave is an institution in this city,” according to Ward 4 Alderman Tony Lafuente. “Oftentimes these are the social consequences of progress. Sometimes progress isn’t really progress. To have somebody that has been the fabric of my community as my constituent, I know how he does his work, I see his equipment when I go by Ten Hills. He does a wonderful job. He’s clean, he’s courteous, he’s part of this community.”
The request for an amendment to the ordinance was approved by the Board and the matter was referred to the Inspectional Services Division for further action.