By Hal Dardick
2:56 PM CDT, October 24, 2012
A City Council committee today signed off on 21 locations where food trucks will be able to park on a regular basis, but two others didn’t make the cut.
The ordinance making food trucks legal requires that at least 30 “food truck stands” be set up across Chicago, but it’s expected there will be far more in the end, said sponsoring Ald. Brendan Reilly, 42nd.
One of the rejected locations is on Broadway south of Wellington Avenue. The East Lakeview Chamber of Commerce opposed, saying the location would allow food truck vendors with lower overhead costs to unfairly compete with 20 restaurants that spend at least $150,000 a year to maintain their storefronts.
As a result, that location was removed, said Ald. Thomas Tunney, 44th. The alderman said the request came from a local coffee shop owner who thought food trucks would bring in more business, but the business turned out to be the only local bricks-and-mortar food operation in favor of the stand, Tunney said.
“The businesses just don’t feel that this is the right thing to do for them when they are trying to make a dime,” Maureen Martino, executive director of the East Lakeview Chamber, told members of the License and Consumer Protection Committee that endorsed the 21 locations.
“There’s really no parking at all” in the area, she added. “And there is really not a need for more food.”
The other rejected location was in the Loop, at 33 N. LaSalle St. Reilly said traffic in the area already is problematic and allowing the stand would reduce the number of parking meters.
Under the city’s contract with Chicago Parking Meters LLC, which is leasing the city’s metered parking spaces for 75 years, the city must make up for lost meter revenue, either by installing new meters or making payments to the company.
Aldermen also endorsed moving one proposed location at 2156 N. Stockton Drive two blocks north.
Final approval of the list — which was the result of negotiation among food truck operators, aldermen, restaurant owners and local chambers of commerce — could come at the Oct. 31 council meeting.
Ald. John Arena, 45th, who wants food stands in his Northwest Side ward, said he felt the city wasn’t moving fast enough to identify locations. The stands “would give these small business owners an opportunity to survive, not just downtown,” but also in the neighborhoods, he said.
Maureen West, project manager at the Chicago Department of Transportation, said she would be glad to work with Arena on locations in his ward. Tunney, who is a restaurant owner, said the idea now is to launch the program.
“This is a step, a first step,” Tunney said. “I also believe there is plenty of opportunity in the greater city.” The idea behind the initial list was to allow food trucks “to infiltrate” areas where they otherwise would not have been allowed under the ordinance because they were within 200 feet of a restaurant.
The 21 locations are in Lakeview, Lincoln Park, West Town, the Loop, the Near North Side and the Gold Coast, neighborhoods chosen for a “high density.” By setting aside space, the trucks will be able to park.
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