CHICAGO - Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled a plan earlier this week that would legalize food trucks in the city while restricting their operations to avoid competing with nearby restaurants, the Chicago Sun-Times reports.
The mayor€™s ordinance is being placed on the fast track with the hope that dozens of rolling restaurants will begin roaming the city this summer, ending a two-year stalemate.
The ordinance would require mobile food trucks to meet three criteria: They would have to be at least 200 feet away from a licensed restaurant; they would need to be in a location where they could legally park; and they could not remain in any location for more than two consecutive hours.
Additionally, the ordinance would create designated "food stands" in "highly congested areas" in a number of communities.
Chicago currently permits food trucks but only if they sell pre-packaged foods. Emanuel€™s ordinance would authorize cooking on food trucks and "low-level preparation," defined as "cutting, assembling, etc."
The trucks would be required to install GPS systems so that the city could monitor and enforce locations and activity. The city€™s Department of Business Affairs and Consumer Protection could also cap the number of food truck licenses, offering a lottery system for distribution.
If such a cap is imposed, no one applicant could hold more than 10% of the licensed, with each issued for a $1,000 fee. The move was praised by Alderman Scott Waguespack, chief sponsor of a stalled food truck bill.
"It creates more choice for people throughout the city, especially in areas that don€™t have access to good food. It creates jobs and adds to the culinary outlook of the city. It adds to the whole prospect of Chicago being this forward-thinking city, especially in the culinary arts," Waguespack said.
Restaurateur Dan Rosenthal had opposed previous proposals but praised Emanuel€™s ordinance as protecting the interests of brick-and-mortar businesses.
"It greatly restricts the number of food trucks that could be on the street-per-zone. It provides for severe penalties for violation of the ordinance, which was not the case before. It greatly restricts their hours of operation and imposes very strict controls for sanitation and food safety," he said.