Chicago’s Responsible & Realistic Restaurants-On-Wheels: The New Food Truck Ordinance

By Joe Moreno | Alderman, Chicago’s 1st Ward | HuffPost

Joe Moreno | Alderman, Chicago’s 1st Ward

The last meeting of the City Council was a good one; we decriminalized/reclassified marijuana possession, my Live-Work Ordinance was finally passed (after an unnecessary and worthless three month delay) and the Mayor, with seven Aldermen (including me) introduced a Food Truck Ordinance, which will legitimize and regulate a burgeoning business industry.

The council has been going back and forth on this issue since before I was in office. I’ve sat in too many meetings to mention, where the same thing is discussed for what seems like eternity. What we introduced last Wednesday, while not perfectly satisfactory to some food truck operators (as I’m sure you can see from my fellow debater), is a workable compromise.

Currently we have 127 licensed food trucks in our city. New York and L.A. have thousands. We can’t wait to make changes any longer: our current requirements, developed in the early 1990s, are antiquated and unsuitable for today’s food truck industry.

This new food truck ordinance has a significant number of reforms, which can seem complex (this is Chicago, what do you expect?) and even overly-burdensome, but were established to ensure public safety, dispel the competitive concerns of established businesses and help the food truck industry grow.

Food truck operators will now be able to prepare food-to-order on board the vehicle. Taken literally the current weird requirements prevent them from even adding ketchup to their food. This new ordinance will establish food truck stands across the city, where trucks can park for free for up to two hours at a time. This should cause consistent turnover, which is fair to the operators and provides variety for customers. It will also allow trucks to sell in highly congested neighborhoods, where parking is close to impossible (I’m talking about you, Lincoln Park).

Under these new regulations food trucks will be able to operate 24/7; currently they can’t operate between 10 p.m. and 10 a.m. The existing restriction that they operate 200 feet. away from an existing restaurant will remain, but will not apply between midnight and 5 a.m.

The other major part of the ordinance is that each truck must install and use a GPS device. This will let the city know where they are (Big Brother is watching), but, much more interestingly it will let developers use the data to build cool apps that let consumers access the location of their desired truck at any time.

The ordinance was referred to the License and Consumer Protection Committee, where I’m sure there will be more discussion and possibly alterations. It’s likely that this ordinance will be voted on (and passed) by the full Council at our next meeting on July 25.

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