Local

September 17, 2008

Beefs about food trucks spur action

But if you're a hot dog vendor

But if you're a hot dog vendor Uptown, you're safe.

The stepped-up enforcement is in response to east Charlotte residents. They complain that the trucks leave litter and attract crowds past 9 p.m., when city rules say they must close.

“It just doesn't look good when people come to the neighborhood and there are three or four of those trucks there,” said Diane Langevin, who lives in the Winterfield neighborhood off Central Avenue. “We just want to protect our property values.”

But others, including some City Council members, have questioned the way the food vending rules are written:

They ask why the city should treat taco vendors differently from pushcart vendors in the Center City, who have no set operating hours.

“There is a question of equity here,” councilwoman Nancy Carter said in July, when the council discussed the issue at length. “We should look at all vendors … If one portion is limited then the whole group should be limited.”

Last weekend, city code officers focused on four corridors: Albemarle Road, Central Avenue, Independence Boulevard and South Boulevard. They issued warnings, then will charge fines up to $500. Most vendors on those streets serve Latin American food.

The sweep will not affect the approximately 18 vendors in Center City, who sell hot dogs, flowers and funnel cakes. They fall under a program run by Center City Partners.

Vendors in the program pay extra fees for space on corners along Tryon Street. They must conform to size restrictions and a dress code, and the carts must promote Uptown's “overall ambiance,” according to the program's rules.

There are no taco vendors downtown, said program manager Ted Boyd, because the county health department only allows certain types of food to be sold from the pushcarts.

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