“Chicago food truck plan gains mobility,” the Trib’s headline says, referring to the fact that the long-gridlocked legislation is actually moving. But mobility in fact may be exactly what food trucks would lose in the new plan. While the ordinance would allow trucks to land on legal parking spaces or private property (with permission) as long as they’re 200 feet away from Keefer’s existing restaurants, Mayor Emanuel is also proposing “food truck stands,” that is, designated parking areas where trucks could gather. These stands would be exempt from any 200 foot restriction… which means that deciding where they will actually be will be the next hot item of contention/opportunity for backroom dealing on the food truck agenda. (The city says they’d choose the stands through an “open and collaborative process in each ward,” which to a Chicago alderman is spelled M-O-N-E-Y.) Will these stands be where Loop lunch dwellers actually are? Or will they be corralled in flat, windswept wastes miles from anything?
Another part of the proposal is the fact that food trucks will be required to wear the truck equivalent of an ankle bracelet tracking their location by GPS, so the city can know instantly if the GoulashWagon or the BigGreenPoutineMachine is selling food 199 feet from a Subway. Because hey, there’s nothing better for a county with $108 billion in unfunded obligations to spend your tax dollars on than watching food trucks go blip on a screen. (City, county, whatever.) We’d totally cut programs for the mentally ill for that. And another question— if the 200-foot rule applies even to trucks on private property, does that mean the Big Star truck can’t park at Big Star because there’s an Edwardo’s across the street or something? Can you cater a corporate office complex if it has a sandwich shop in the lobby, or do you have to break out the tape measure to figure out where to park? In any case, there’s movement on this issue, but whether it’s wide open highway or a brick wall coming up for food trucks remains to be seen. [Tribune]