Two aldermen introduced ordinances to restrict food carts in Chicago, less than a day after they were legalized by the City Council.
Alderman Brendan Reilly’s ordinance would ban the carts in certain upscale areas, and Alderman Tom Tunney’s would ban them around Wrigley Field.
Bennett Lawson, Tunney’s chief of staff, told the Chicago Tribune “there’s no room” for the carts, explaining that the sidewalks are narrow and already have a lot of traffic.
According to The Huffington Post, Tunney told the Chicago Sun-Times in 2011, “We’ve got work to do. We need to hear from all sides. We need to make sure we protect … restaurants and foster a trend that, I think, is gonna be here for a while.”
In an opinion piece for The Huffington Post, reporter Hilary Gowins claims there should be no restrictions on how food trucks conduct their operations.
Gowins noted that the carts, primarily operated by the Chicago Latino population, represent community centerpieces in low-income neighborhoods. She argued against the regulations that the aldermen are attempting to impose and that the choice as to where these culinary entrepreneurs are allowed to operate should be left to Chicago residents.
“But Tunney is dead wrong when he said the city must ‘protect’ restaurants. It should be left to hungry Chicagoans—not all-powerful Chicago aldermen—to determine where vendors take their talents,” wrote Gowins.
Food carts were legalized in Chicago on Sept. 24 after the Chicago City Council voted to lift a ban on the them. This was a victory for the food truck industry. However, the carts are still heavily regulated. In order to operate, vendors may not exceed operations over two hours in one location. Also, each cart must install a GPS device, which city personnel will pull information from in order to investigate the cart if needed.
The Illinois Policy Institute estimates that the regulation of food carts in Chicago has the potential to create 6,000 jobs. According to the Chicago Eater, “requiring pushcart vendors to buy a business license” could also net Chicago “$8.5 million annually.”