Mobile food vendors, who won licensing approval from Council just a month ago, might face a lock-out from some of Chicago’s busiest sidewalks. The Committee on License and Consumer Protection approved substitute ordinances limiting vendors from certain portions of the Central Business District, around Wrigley Field, and in parts of Lakeview on Tuesday.
Attendance (members in bold): Chairman Emma Mitts (37), Vice-Chair Deb Silverstein (50), Will Burns (4), Gregory Mitchell (7), Sue Sadlowski Garza (10), George Cardenas (12), Marty Quinn (13), David Moore (17), Ricardo Munoz (22),Michael Scott Jr. (24), Walter Burnett (27), Chris Taliaferro (29), Ariel Reboyras(30), Brendan Reilly (42), Michele Smith (43), Tom Tunney (44)
Ald. Brendan Reilly (42) told committee members the Central Business District has 5,000 workers, all filling sidewalks already obstructed by benches, signs, landscaping, and bus stops. He wants to keep food cart vendors from blocking narrow or cluttered sidewalks during heavy pedestrian hours. It’s not a blanket ban across downtown, he told members, and he plans on possibly walking back some restrictions after looking at infrastructure changes over the winter.
Ald. Roberto Maldonado (26), the key driver that pushed licensing for mobile food cart vendors and a member of the license committee, did not attend Tuesday’s meeting. Reilly applauded him, saying he supported the ordinance and even worked at food truck back in the day, but food carts in certain stretches of sidewalk in the CBD would pose a public safety risk. “The way food carts work is that they take up 3 or 4 feet of the public right of way, but then people queue… [during rush hour] you can imagine there will be pinch points created.”
Reilly’s substitute ordinance limits carts on Michigan Avenue from Oak Street all the way down to Roosevelt; Rush from Division to Pearson; Clinton, near Ogilvie station; Halsted, near Mariano’s Whole Foods, and a string of Greek restaurants, the Lasalle street business district near City Hall, stretching all the way to Jackson; and big chunks of Michigan, Chicago, Sedgwick, and State streets. Read the full list here. He says there are many other public spaces in CBD where vendors can make good money.
Ald. Tom Tunney’s (44) substitute ordinance limits carts “on the sidewalk immediately adjacent to Wrigley Field; such sidewalk consisting of the north side of Addison Street, the east side of Clark Street, the south side of Waveland Avenue, and the west side of Sheffield Avenue” plus stretches of Halsted, Belmont, Broadway, Clark, and Diversey. He said he’s spoken at length about congestion problems around Wrigley Field, which he says has an already too small footprint. And on other major East Lakeview Streets, he says sidewalks are only 6 or 7 feet wide, where it’s tough for a couple to pass a baby buggy.
Like Reilly, Tunney says the ban isn’t ward-wide “by any stretch”, and mentioned the Southport Corridor as a better possible alternative for vendors. Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Maureen Martino echoed Tunney, saying there’s not even space for sidewalk cafes on Clark Street, “let alone a cart.” Broadway has 73 restaurants already, and half have cafes, Martino says, leaving little room for cart vendors.
Both substitutes passed unanimously and will be reported out at today’s full Council meeting.
Ald. Will Burns (4) also won unanimous approval for a municipal code change allowing private companies to boot cars parked on their property. He told the committee it’s quicker for businesses to get a car moved by booting than by towing, and cheaper and more convenient for the driver who got the boot. He called it a “win-win”, and said there would be signs posted warning the car will be booted if the driver leaves the premises. Private booting is legal in more than half the City, according to DNAInfo.
The committee also expanded the city’s definition of service dogs beyond their assistance to the blind, an ordinance introduced by City Clerk Susana Mendoza. The amendment to the municipal code calls for a broader definition of service dogs who are trained “for the benefit of a person with a disability, including a physical, sensory, psychiatric, intellectual, or other mental disability.” Service dogs are exempt from the City’s $5 per-year dog license (which costs 10 times more for dogs who aren’t spayed or neutered).
All other agenda items passed the committee and will be reported out today.