List Of Proposed Food Truck Stands Avoids South Side
By Anthony Todd in Food on Oct 4, 2012 2:00PM
Photo by Renee Rendler-Kaplan.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel introduced a list of 23 designated "sites" for food trucks yesterday. As part of the new food truck ordinance, the trucks are authorized to park in certain places without fear of tickets or trouble—the sites are meant to assure that people will know where to look for trucks and that there are no problems with traffic. Guess what? There are no sites south of Roosevelt or north of Irving Park Road.
RedEye conveniently mapped out all of the sites for you, in case the long dry list of addresses in the Trib didn't get through to you. Look at the map, and you begin to notice something. The truck sites are limited to a very small number of neighborhoods.
One of our colleagues pointed out that these happen to be the exact same neighborhoods with an overabundance of restaurants! "Why would I go to a food truck on Division and Damen? There's like 8 billion restaurants over there!" One of the primary objections to food trucks was that they might compete with brick and mortar restaurants—the ordinance was designed (supposedly) to allay some of those concerns. So how about, say, putting some of the sites in other neighborhoods with fewer food options?
The mayor issued a statement about the new locations.
"These dedicated stands for food trucks will provide additional parking opportunities and expanded operations to foster this growing industry. They will also help to safeguard communities from added congestion and public safety issues, while creating economic opportunity throughout the city."
"Throughout the city" apparently means a relatively tiny swath of Chicago that is already inundated with food trucks and restaurants.
One might argue that the sites were put where the trucks are likely to get business. After all, the trucks can still drive around and park, as long as they follow certain guidelines. But business will also come when locals know where to find the trucks, and there are certainly enough food trucks these days to go around. Many food truck owners have told us over the years that they were surprised how well they did when they went into "less popular" neighborhoods—people are excited at the prospect of a new dining option, especially one that is reasonably priced.
If the city is serious about fighting food deserts and making sure there is no unfair competition, this is a great place to start. There may be more locations proposed, says the city. In the next round of sites, how about considering some neighborhoods outside of Lincoln Park, Lakeview, Wicker Park and the Loop?