The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Mayor's Food Truck Proposal Moves To City Council

By Chuck Sudo in Food on Jun 26, 2012 1:41PM

Wednesday's City Council meeting is shaping up to be one of the more memorable ones in Rahm Emanuel's mayoralty. Emanuel will introduce tomorrow a modified ordinance that, once hearings on it are held and if passed by the full council, will finally allow for fully functioning food trucks in Chicago.

The city Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection reviewed the Emanuel proposal and a nearly identical one sponsored by 32nd Ward Ald. Scott Waguespack late Monday. Waguespack told Sun-Times City Hall reporter Fran Spielman he was "kind of annoyed" when he found out Emanuel was working on a similar plan but knowing the mayor and opponents such as Ald. tom Tunney (44th) had finally come around to the idea of legalizing food trucks that could cook food to order was a good thing.

In addition to being able to cook and prepare food on board, the ordinance will allow food trucks to operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; higher licensing fees, regular health inspections and food safety and sanitation training, and stiffer fines; and requires food trucks to be equipped with GPS, maintain a 200-foot minimum from a brick-and-mortar restaurant, and operate in designated "mobile food truck loading zones" for no more than two hours at a time. (Trucks may be able to serve within 200 feet of a restaurant between midnight and 5 a.m.)

Emanuel lauded the compromised ordinance in a statement to media.

“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. “The food truck industry in Chicago has been held back by unnecessary restrictions, and 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.”

Except that the loading zones seem like an unnecessary restriction. Waguespack's version of the ordinance lists the loading zones as the following areas: Addison St. to Chicago Ave. to Halsted St. to Western Ave.; Diversey Ave. to Irving Park Rd. to Lake Michigan to Ashland Ave.; and North Ave. to Jackson Boulevard to Lake Michigan to Des Plaines St. The statement from the Mayor's office said the eventual locations for the food truck zones would be "selected through an open and collaborative process in each ward by aldermen, the business community, and residents."

The fine and licensing structure for the ordinance has also not been finalized. the Waguespack's ordinance called for a $275 fee for a mobile food dispenser license, $1,000 for a mobile food preparer license and another $2,500 for a supplemental food preparer license, with a cap on the number of licenses one vendor could own; and fines for violating the ordinance ranging from $1,000-$1,500 for a first offense and up to $2,500 and revocation of one's license for a third offense.

Duck 'N Roll owner Amy Le, who was at yesterday's meeting, told Crain's a $700, two-year license for a food dispenser truck like a cupcake truck and a $1,000 license for trucks that prepare food was discussed.