Chicago Food Trucks Lose Court Fight, Hopes Rise For Legislative Help

After Chicago food truck owners lost their court fight December 5 to overturn the city’s restrictive food truck ordinance, a city alderman has proposed allowing the trucks to set up shop in one location for six hours. That’s triple the current limit of two hours, a time constraint put into place in 2012 as part of a long-disputed ordinance that finally allowed for cooking aboard food trucks in Chicago.

There is formidable political power championing the shift to six hours. Calling food trucks a pivotal part of Chicago’s “culinary scene,” Illinois Restaurant Association President Sam Toia says he would support a longer, stay-in-one-place rule to keep food trucks in Chicago.

“The hours should be raised,” Toia told the Chicago Sun-Times. “Two hours is definitely too short of a time, too quick of a turnover time. Restaurateurs understand that you’ve got to set up and break down any time you’re opening and closing a restaurant or food truck.”

The Illinois Food Truck Owners Association praised the proposed six-hour rule as a “positive first step towards treating food truck owners properly instead of as second-class citizens.”

In addition to the two-hour parking limit, Chicago’s food trucks must stay 200 feet away from stationary restaurants and have GPS devices on board so City Hall can track their movements. Toia remained adamant about retaining the 200-foot bubble “that protects brick-and-mortar restaurants” but is open to designating additional food truck stands around the city.

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