Sidewalk Cart Vendors- Mobile Vending Part 3

This is a long summary of the Regulatory, Energy, and Environment committee and the Transportation and Public Works committee chaired by Elizabeth Glidden.

As explained at the end, the committees chose to add an effective date of May 1, 2010 as well as work with businesses on a task force to shape the proposal.

This was described as a public meeting on sidewalk cart vendors.

Doug Cress gave the overview of the sidewalk food units. This expands the use of sidewalk food units in the Downtown Improvement District. It is billed as an opportunity to expand their businesses.

Doug Cress claims that the ordinance is long overdue.

Linda Roberts begins the Powerpoint presentation that was at the last two meetings. The Powerpoint presentation is available online. It is for current food business licenses.

As I have noted in previous posts, the permitting process requires the consent of the adjacent business owners.

The application requires a location review that requires a review of the location to make sure that traffic on the sidewalk will not be impeded.

Fifteen major cities already have mobile food vending processes. Linda Roberts claims that there is widespread support for the proposal. She noted that there is some concern the proposal could challenge brick and mortar units. Linda Roberts raps up her presentation.

Doug Cress goes over the major concerns that have been expressed about mobile vendors.

Council member Lillegren begins to ask some questions. First question is why the cap at only 25 mobile vendors operated.

Linda Roberts feels that 25 was a good starting point and that it was a manageable limit.

Lillegren asks a second question is why limit it to only one mobile vendor per parking lot?

Linda Roberts said that the limit is to foster both the sale of food and allow for the flow of traffic. They did not want parking lots converted into food malls.

Lillegren asks about the provision of requiring the mobile vendor to obey the lawful order of a police officer to leave.

Linda Roberts believes that the provision is for purposes of managing accidents or other safety events.

Lillegren feels that the provision is unclear on that point.

Lillegren asks about the provisions concerning whether there is an appeals process built into the license application.

Linda Roberts says there is due process built into all licensing applications.

Mr. Nelson clarifies the legal matter.

There is a discussion about whether the fee is in the proposal and it is determined that it is the proposed fee.

Counsel member Hofstede asks a clarifying question about whether there is sufficient staff to manage the program.

Linda Roberts believes there is.

Council member Hofstede is concerned about the 100 foot zone of refuge and the vendors responsibility.

Linda Roberts explains they will be responsible for litter within 100 feet of their unit.

There is nothing specific about recycling in the ordinance.

Council member Schiff asks about recycling and power sources.

Linda Roberts says very little discussion has been made about recycling. As to the typical power source it is typically through generators.

The public hearing is opened.

Carla Juneska

Carla Juneska is the first to speak. She is in favor of the ordinance. She is a food lover. She feels mobile vendors have been successful in other parts of the city.

Jason Adkins

Jason Adkins represents the Institute for Justice as an attorney. They feel mobile vending is a unique means of getting a foothold in the economy. The government should be removing barriers to market entry. Jason Adkins believes the proposal could bring economic development, but cautions against using the proposal as a gimmick. The current proposal is not citywide, does not allow food trucks on city streets, has arbitrary one per parking lot limits, and is limited only pre-existing license holders. It requires the consent of the adjacent property owner. Jason Adkins recommends looking at Milwaulkee’s regime.

Tim Mahoney

Tim Mahoney gives a speech. He is the warehouse district Business association representative and owner of the Loon Cafe. He wants to form a task force to answer questions about the mobile food vendors. There are many questions about the effects of mobile food vendors. Tim Mahoney believes that by joining with the council, a successful compromise proposal could be reached. He is asking to form a task force because he feels people have not been given enough information about the proposal. Tim Mahoney wants more time to get it right.

Tore Simonsen (31:29)

A resident of Our Savior, homeless shelter. I am speaking about the need for the adjacent business owners consent. It would undermine the proposal. The property is in public trust, so why do we need the consent of the adjacent property owners? There would be a decline and co-option of public space for private benefit which is problematic.

Val Barnes and Selvine Sedeki

Val Barnes feels it is a great idea which is long overdue. Feels she got a lot of good information from council member Goodman’s office. She expresses concern that the council has already decided who were twenty-five street cart vendors are. She feels that it is a wonderful opportunity for small businesses. She wants to see this proposal implemented online so that people will know how the proposal is implemented. She wonders how hard it will be to become one of the twenty-five and whether the opportunities will ever extend to non-licensed businesses.

Ryan McKenzie

Ryan McKenzie shares many of Tim Mahoney. Wonders what will keep the big corporations from buying into the deal. Ryan McKenzie does not feel there is a need for more fast food.

Sarah Harris

Represents downtown improvement district and wants to see the proposal done right. She wants to activate the streets and get people in the office buildings and on to the streets.

Corey Sax

Corey Sax works with Pizza Lucce. Corey Sax feels it is a great idea and is not opposing it. Corey Sax is likewise concerned about big chains coming in and taking advantage of the downtown. Corey Sax is very concerned that allowing one vendor per parking lot will add to the late night chaos. Corey Sax wants a task force.

Erika Straight

Erika Straight runs Foxy Falafel. She feels mobile vending is a great opportunity. She feels that people will eventually notice other businesses through street vending. She feels that street food is a great culture.

Council Lillegren asks if she has a primary food license. She does not. The question becomes would Foxy Falafel qualify for street vending? The answer is that any food license would qualify.

Patty Soskin

Patty Soskin is from the other side of the river and would love the opportunity to have a mobile food vending opportunity. Patty Soskin is willing to pay extra for the opportunity.

Peter Kirian

Partner in the local and Kirian’s Irish pub. He is a huge supporter of the proposal but feels that the businesses want more of a voice in the process.

Mickey Carlson

She is speaking for Chef Shack. Mickey Carlson wants to make the point that street food will increase the visibility of the other brick and mortar shops and restaraunts. Mickey Carlson also reiterates that street vendors are very responsible. Street vendors pick up trash. Chef Shack does recycle and has compostable packaging.. Chef Shack is opposed to granting licenses only to existing brick and mortar establishments. Chef Shack wants the street vending license to grow and revolutionize without prerequisites. The mobile vendors will bring people into the area.

David Cavenat

David Cavenat is a fan of food carts but is concerned as a property owner. There are vacancies on Hennnepin. As a taxpayer, he is concerned about having to compete with people who are not paying the same tax burden. He is worried that low cost carts will push out tenants. He wants to spend more time to work on the proposal.

Cynthia Curtis

Cynthia Curtis is with Hell’s Kitchen. She has a foot in both camps. She wants to do a Hell-On-Wheels mobile vending unit. She has a lot of questions. She understands that it will take a lot of work to get a mobile vending unit ready to go. She is worried about missing the boat. She is not ready to roll because the first email she received was on March 12, despite the months of rumors. She is also concerned about the noise of generators. Can the property owners charge rent? She is also worried about the short notice. She wants 30 days for a task force.

Kate Summers

Kate Summers is a local foodie and present in the blogging community. She has heard about this for months. Many people have heard about the proposal for months. She loves food and loves attending farmers market. She goes to Mill City farmer’s market and Spoon River for breakfast. The idea of coming into downtown Minneapolis for street vending is appealing to her. She feels street vending is the only thing missing from Minneapolis street culture.

Christina Cavenat

She is wondering if the 25 vendors always get the spot or if they need to get one each year?

Sandra Presley Patterson

Sandra Patterson has a question. What type of vehicle is acceptable? Is it something that is already attached to something with an engine or is it a trailer or a small food cart? What does it mean to be associated with a kitchen?

The public hearing is closed at this point and the council and staff are asked to answer some concerns.

The committee begins working backwards on questions and concerns.

First question is about what type of vehicle is acceptable under the ordinance. The staff feels it should be open, but that is mobile. It is not to be stationary. It could be a trailer, but mobile. It could be a truck or a trailer, but must be self-contained.

Council member Colvin Roy wonders how can a trailer be considered a self-contained unit?

Staff feels that a trailer would need to be able to move out within a reasonable time.

Council member Colvin Roy as is the reasonableness going to be addressed in the licensing process?

Staff feels they would have to address the issue in the licensing process.

The next question addressed is how do you define if it is associated with a commercial kitchen?

The base license is defined as any type of food license, including alcohol licenses. It is very broad.

It is explained that anything which is pre-prepared would have to be prepared within the confines of the commercial kitchen.

Council member Lilligren loves the idea of mobile food vendors and increases access for people who do not have a full scale kitchen.

The idea of having a tie to a commissary is something which could be considered, but is prohibited.

Council member Reich wants information about the power sources. The staff explains that they do not want the mobile vendors to tap into the grid, but be powered by their own generators.

Staff is then pressed on the issue regarding the noise of the generators. Vendors would have to follow existing noise ordinances.

Council member Schiff notes that quiet generators probably would not qualify under the existing ordinances. The goal is that generators would power those located on public property but private property could be governed by separate agreements.

Council member Hofstedt asks about the start up costs associated with start up vendors.

The staff indicates that costs vary. It really seems to range from $25,000 to several hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Council member Hofstedt: That is just start up cost. This does not include on-going concerns, such as insurance.

The discussion turns to the hours of operation which are only until 10 pm for vendors near residences or mixed use residences.

Council member Gordon wants to clarify the issue of power sources again.

Staff tries to clarify that if the mobile vendors is located on private property it might be able to draw from private property. There is confusion regarding whether this is allowed or not. It needs further review.

Council member Schiff asks why shut the food service off at midnight?

Staff felt that it was a starting point for the proposal. There is discussion about security concerns and crowd control from the police.

The discussion turns to the awarding of the 25 permits.

Staff felt that the 25 spots are consistent with other ordinances with caps. The staff feels the downtown region is limited by space itself.

The permits will be awarded on a first come first serve basis. They will expire by April 1 of the following year.

How will renewals be granted? It is first come first serve.

Council member Glidden wonders if this will create huge lines? Glidden is also concerned about the possibility of 25 hotdog vendors?

Staff does not feel that there will be a huge concert style line. Staff felt that first come first serve was the best way to do that even for renewals. They looked at lottery systems and bid systems. The staff is open to other ideas, but feels first come first serve is the best system for now.

There has been no predetermination of the businesses that will get the permit. In addition to that, the mobile vendor application must be complete before you people get into the que for a license.

Council member Hofestedt shares the concerns and feels that the application process should be reviewed.

Licensed establishment outside of city boundaries are not currently eligible. Council member Glidden believes it might happen in another iteration of the bill.

There is discussion about the impact of fast food vendors. The staff says that they are not limiting the type of establishments that can apply for a license. The lawyers have equal protection and commerce clause concerns regarding mobile vendors and prohibiting certain types of establishments.

Council member Hofstedt raises the issue of the possibility of a task force.

Staff is trying to get this done expediently, but feels that state laws will be in place by April. Staff would like to keep the process moving forward.

Council Gordon wants to know why the short time frame is so important.

Staff wished they could be ready for the Twins opener, but it simply isn’t possible. There is no definite time line for this proposal, but they want to get it done quickly.

Council Gordon emphasizes a slower process might help. Council Gordon also suggests perhaps passing the resolution and then meeting with the warehouse district to address their concerns.

The issue of saleability of consent comes to light. Council Colvin Roy asks if the consent is saleable.

The staff says the consent requirement could be stricken. The staff says they are not sure if they

The policy reason is to provide sources of input for established businesses. From a legal perspective, the city does not own the streets and sidewalks. It is owned by the adjacent property owners with an easement for the public right of way. It will also insulate the city from a regulatory taking claim or an inverse condemnation claim. Legal staff advises the council to include it.

Council Coven Roy is curious as to why they cannot prevent the sale of consent. Can it be a civil offense to charge for such permission?

Staff says it could be included.

Council member Schiff wonders do they need permission first as part of the application process?

According to staff applicants need to have permission first.

Council member Quincy asks if they can move locations?

Staff would require any move to meet the same guidelines of consent and consideration of process.

Council member Liligren wants to explore the issue of control of a public right of way and ceding it to private interests. It seems rare to cede control of the public right of way.

Liligren asks can the private property owner withdraw the consent during the year?

Once the vehicle gets the permission, the permission will run its term. If there was an issue, it would hopefully be resolved through city officials. If push came to shove, the licensee could finish out there license term.

Council Liligren asks about external signage. What are we talking about external signage?

Staff says a sandwich board or external to the vehicle is external signage.

Council Liligren loves the idea of expanding it beyond downtown. Council Liligren is concerned this may not be the right ordinance. Council Liligren is hoping it is a low cost gateway for new businesses and feels that limiting it to existing businesses is too restrictive.

Public meeting is adjourned.

The proposal is moved forward without recommendation. Council member Colvin Roy wants to shape a task force.

Council member Glidden wants an amendment for an effective date of May 1, 2010. The amendment proposes.

The pieces returned to the author are 1A and 1C. 1B moves forward without recommendation. 1B will have an effective date of May 1, 2010.

Staff will be given direction to convene a task force with businesses regarding food cart vendors and include a report back about recycling.

One Response to “Sidewalk Cart Vendors- Mobile Vending Part 3”

  1. Great reporting Tore. I’m glad you had time to do this. While this doesn’t directly save dollhouse, it does generate traffic to your blog. People reading it may find out ways to save dollhouse they wouldn’t otherwise think of, so I think it is a net positive.

    I can see how Tommy’s initial reaction might be negative, but I think if he considers the ripple effect this has he might recognize that there is some merit to this post, in that it indirectly works to save dollhouse.

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