By Harry Kane
There may be a mobile food truck coming soon to a neighborhood near you.
The Committee on Legislative Matters approved the Mobile Food Vendor Ordinance after making significant modifications at the meeting on Oct. 23.
The final version of the proposal will be presented to the full Board of Aldermen on Thursday Oct. 25 and will be passed into law pending the Boards’ decision.
As defined by the City of Somerville, the Mobile Food Vender is “any mobile operation that stores, prepares, packages, serves, sells, or otherwise provides for human consumption any prepared or packaged food or beverages from a truck or cart, including ice cream and non-ice cream food and beverage products.”
On Tuesday evening, after much deliberation and negotiation, the committee clarified and amended the proposal with most of the Aldermen present.
In regards to the regulations: The ordinance allocates full autonomy to the board of Aldermen. In doing so, the Aldermen will allocate these licenses to the venders, therefore designating hours of operation and determining suitable locations for business.
The criteria for issuance of vendor licenses, under the Boards’ ordinance, are based on the “general welfare and convenience of the community.”
In other words, if the food trucks are negatively impacting the community the Board of Aldermen will revoke the license. For example, if food trucks, which may be designated to a loading zone, as allocated locations during non-operating hours, hinder existing restaurants, the Board of Aldermen is “free to deny applicants for public good or general welfare,” according to Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz.
But most food trucks will be designated “locations and times to protect year-round businesses in all our squares,” said Alderman John Connolly.
One of the most cherished and beloved food trucks is Moe’s B.B.Q Trolly located next to Trum Field off Magoun Square. There you can find some of the best burgers, sausages and hotdogs plus a can of soda and chips for only $6 dollars. Moe’s B.B.Q Trolly is open for lunch 5 days a week until it gets too cold to cook. A staple in the community, the business has thrived for almost ten years.
Doug Kress, who is pursuing his Master’s degree in Public Policy from Tufts University, has been drafting the Mobile Food Vendor Ordinance since April of this year. Kress stated that the license is “tied to a specific location unless they want to be roving ice cream trucks.”
For a new mobile vendor applicant the issuance of a license is in the ballpark of $750 dollars. There are additional fees associated with the license if the operator decides to work after-hours. All new applicants are required to have a public hearing before being granted the license.
Normal operating hours are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. If the vendor decides to operate his food truck after the designated hours there is an additional $500 dollar fee.
Those vendors who are renewing their licenses in the new-year will pay $390 dollars, according to the Board of Aldermen.
There are exceptions to the designated locations prescribed to the venders for operation. For instance, if there is an event like Summerfest or Riverfest the application process for the food trucks is all encompassing and therefore allows them to operate in those locations on that temporary basis.
According to Alderman John Connolly the Mobile Food Vendor Ordinance should go into effect in mid November, barring any further delays.