Chicago Mayor Seeks to Reach Food Truck Compromise this Summer

Food trucks have had trouble co-existing with brick-and-mortar restaurants in most major cities, but local and state legislators have a done a fair job at ameliorating these issues and creating a compromise that both types of food vendors can live with. In Chicago, such an agreement has failed to pass so far, but Mayor Rahm Emanuel plans to break this two-year stalemate.

“The other cities – San Francisco, Seattle, New York – they’re not smarter than us. So, I said we’re gonna … find common ground to move forward. I’ve now introduced an ordinance that, in my view, moves us forwards. Other people will make changes along the way, but my goal here is to find common ground, move us forward, not stare off at each other and do nothing and wait two to three years while other cities move forward.”

Food truck owners are currently displeased with the mayor’s proposal to require food trucks to stay 200 feet away from restaurants, and their designation as ‘food stands’ in high density areas, as well as mandatory GPS devices they may need to install so that the city can track their movements. The mayor has said he’s open to compromise on the 200-foot buffer, but believes it is a ‘golden balance’ between the restaurants and the trucks.

The new proposed compromise aims to authorize food trucks this summer, and is designed to strike a balance based upon three basic criteria. Food trucks must park at least 200 feet away from any licensed restaurant except in the hours between midnight and 5 a.m., they must be in a location where they can legally park, and they cannot remain in any one location for more than two hours at a time.

This ordinance also creates designated food stands in areas of the city that are very congested in order to give food trucks a defined area where they know they can operate. These food stands would be exempt from the 200-foot buffer and be long enough for approximately two parking spaces. A minimum of five food stands would be located in each of the city’s six designated community areas, and they may be built in other parts of the city as well.

As of now Mayor Emanuel still plans for the food trucks to install GPS systems to “monitor and enforce truck locations and activity”. The Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection would also cap the number of food truck licenses and impose a lottery system to prevent crowding and safety concerns.

Mayor Emanuel again voiced his belief in restaurants and food trucks reaching a compromise, “Chicago is one of the culinary capitals of the world. We can do this. We can move forward, rather than talk about something and make no progress when it’s essential for the economy to move forward. I think we have the right type of resolution. It may not make everybody 100 percent happy. But doing nothing is not a choice we can make as a city.”

We’re pleased to see the mayor’s optimism toward the Chicago mobile food community, and hopefully by the end of the summer some original food trucks can roll out and begin operating legally.

DailyFoodtoEat is the official blog of FoodtoEat, a sustainable online food ordering and concierge catering service featuring your favorite restaurants, food trucks and caterers. Check out the deliciousness here:


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