I'll update/edit this as more information is posted but Chicago did approve food trucks but only in a few areas.
Putting the brakes on food trucks
July 25, 2012
If you're hoping the city's new food truck ordinance will make it easier to score a tamale or a Vietnamese sandwich on a corner near your workplace, you're probably going to be disappointed.
The measure the City Council is likely to approve Wednesday seems designed to contain the food truck trend, not to nurture it.
Adventurous grab-and-go eaters love the trucks, a thriving street feature in places like Austin, Seattle and Los Angeles. They — and we — would like to see those vendors flourish in Chicago, too.
But the measure on the table is more about protecting the operators of sit-down restaurants from their drive-by competitors.
There are some pluses for the food trucks: They'd finally be allowed to cook and assemble their menu items on site instead of preparing and packaging them beforehand. They'd be allowed to operate from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. instead of the current 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. And the ordinance provides for a minimum of five "truck stands," each accommodating two trucks, in six major business districts — Lakeview, Lincoln Park, the Near North and Near West sides, West Town and the Loop.
Except for those fixed spaces, though, they still wouldn't be allowed to park within 200 feet of an existing food establishment. Some of the drivers say police have shooed them away from spaces near a Starbucks or 7-Eleven, even. And the fines for parking within those zones would quadruple, starting at $1,000.
So it still wouldn't be easy for the trucks to park near those hungry customers during the hours when they're hungriest. Ten designated spaces in the Loop might be enough at 3 p.m., for example, but during lunch hours there would likely be many more trucks circling the blocks, looking for a legal place to park — or stopped in loading zones or double parked, primed for a quick getaway. Just like now.
Being mobile is the whole point of food trucks. Vendors typically find a promising spot, alert customers of their location via Twitter, sell their specialties until the swarms subside or the food runs out, and move on.
Remember the map the Tribune produced to show how much of the city could fall under the surveillance of speed enforcement cameras? Advocates for the food trucks have produced a similar map of the downtown "buffer zones." It shows a smattering of islands where trucks might park legally, assuming the spaces aren't already occupied by other vehicles.
The proposed ordinance also would require the vendors to install GPS tracking devices on their trucks so cops can pounce on them for parking outside those islands.
We think the trucks ought to be able to park in any legal spot, plug the meter, sell their food and move to another block. The ordinance doesn't serve the needs of the lunch-seeking public. It benefits the brick-and-mortar eateries, whose owners don't want the competition.
Those business owners complain that the food trucks park near their restaurants and hijack customers. A traditional four-walls-and-a-roof restaurant has higher overhead, including real estate taxes, the owners argue. Yes, but it also has air conditioning, table seating, restrooms and maybe a liquor license. If that business model doesn't work, then maybe those restaurants should have their own trucks. Some of them already plan to do so.
In other cities, the reverse is sometimes true: A popular food truck becomes an incubator for a new restaurant.
In some places, buffer zones have been overturned in court, on grounds that they protect one group of businesses at the expense of another. Watch for that to happen here, too.
The city's dining scene is constantly evolving. When a new competitor shows up, restaurateurs must take steps to protect their turf. Raise their game. Lower their prices. In Chicago, there's another option: Call the cops. http://www.chicagotribune...120725,0,5139541.story
Chicago food trucks OK to cook onboard, city council says
July 25, 2012 (CHICAGO) (WLS) -- Chefs will soon start dishing out what they cook up -- inside their Chicago food trucks.
On Wednesday the Chicago City Council approved an ordinance that allows food truck operators to cook onboard.
Under the ordinance, food trucks can't park closer than 200 feet from a restaurant entrance unless they're in designated food-truck parking spots. Food trucks also will be required to have GPS to track their movements.
Chicago is known for high-end restaurants but has lagged behind other cities when it comes to the food truck craze.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the city's aldermen say the ordinance approved Wednesday is a good first step to expand the industry.
The trucks have been able to operate in Chicago, but chefs couldn't cook and prepare food in their vehicles. http://abclocal.go.com/wl...s/local&id=8748819 Chicago City Council Approves New Food Truck Ordinance
Chicago's city council voted 44-1 Wednesday to approve new food truck legislation that includes longer hours of operation and the long-sought ability to cook on-site.
Aldermen spoke in favor of the new ordinance that allows city food trucks to operate from 5 a.m. to 2 a.m. instead of the current 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and prepare food in onboard kitchens instead of off-site spaces.
"I'm looking forward to these trucks," Ald. Willie Cochran (20th). "Bring them on."
"I am energized by the support," Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) said.
The vote doesn't come without some frustration, though. The ordinance includes a strict rule requiring operators to stay 200 feet away from restaurants and a $2,000 fine for offenders that truck owners say makes it difficult for them to do business in populated areas. Another stipulation requires trucks to carry GPS devices to track their movements.
Restaurant owners say the new legislation gives food trucks too much freedom that could hurt struggling brick-and-mortar businesses.
The owners of food truck Duck N Roll say consumers should have the choice whether to buy food from a restaurant or truck.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel has said the new ordinance eliminates unnecessary restrictions holding back food trucks.
“Chicago’s small businesses are the backbones of our communities and are a vital part of what make our city a thriving place to live, work and visit,” said Mayor Emanuel in a statement. “My administration is committed to common-sense changes that will allow this industry to thrive, creating jobs and supporting a vibrant food culture across the city.”
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