Food Truck Ordinance One Step Closer

After a number of debates, Chicago’s food truck operators are one vote away from having a new ordinance allowing cooking on board and “to get the truck rolling.”

Chicago’s City Council committee that administers business licenses passed the ordinance to be voted on by the full council July 25.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced the ordinance that month but today Ald. Tom Tunney (44th) introduced a revised proposal that pulled back on the 24-hour operations announced in the Mayor’s ordinance.

The revised ordinance includes parking zones around the city, but it doesn’t eliminate the 200-feet rule, quadrupled the maximum fine for setting up shop inside that zone to $2,000 and would require trucks to carry GPS devices to track their every move.

“This ordinance is a workable compromise that provides food trucks with completely new and expanded opportunities to operate, including a minimum of 60 free parking spaces in high-traffic areas, expanded hours of operation and the ability to cook on board,” said Rosemary Krimbel Commissioner of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection.

Co-sponsoring Ald. Emma Mitts (37th) who chairs the committee on Licensing and Consumer Protection, said, “This is a great opportunity for Chicago…it calls for creativity in this economical time.”

One of the main concerns of the operators is the GPS devices that will track their every move.

“Food truck operators will be implemented to have mounted GPS devices on board so the city and consumers can easily find their routes,” Krimbel said.

Mitts, too, says the technological aspect has excellent benefits for the food truck industry.

“Technology will help consumers know truck’s location. They will be able to call for their location and go get the diverse amount of food these operators have to offer.”

Although officials praised the idea of GPS devices to gain statistics and their location, operators think differently about the devices.

“I can understand if Lindsey Lohan has a GPS device on her. She has done some bad things, but these food truck operators haven’t done anything wrong,” Alex Levine, founder of Food Truck Freak Chicago website, said before the City Council hearing. “They are unnecessary and it’s an inefficient way to force an unconstitutional law.”

Restaurant owner and food truck operator, Joe Giannini, of Two Italians attended the hearing with low expectations of favorable revisions.

“I am really on the side of the fence,” Giannini said since he has both a restaurant and a food truck. “But no one is going to a food truck over a restaurant.”

Co-sponsor, Mitts, says the revised ordinance is not taking anything away from the businesses of restaurants or food truck operators.

“At the end of the day, people have the choice where to spend their money,” she said.


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