Food carts appeared doomed in Northeast Philly after Councilman Brian O’Neill was able to pass legislation banning them in his 10th District, but a new bill close to being approved would allow carts to return to Cottman and Bustleton avenues.
Several trucks had set up daily near the busy intersection before O’Neill’s bill was passed in June. A provision allowed them to stay until October, but, since then, they have been stationed in the nearby P.C. Richard & Son parking lot.
Matt Rossi, president of the Philly Mobile Food Association, said the vendors were happy to strike a deal with the appliance store but were itching to return to the sidewalk.
Sixth District Councilman Bobby Henon worked with Rossi to craft a bill that would allow up to six food trucks to return to the intersection.
It passed out of City Council’s Committee on Streets and Services without incident last week and is expected to be up for a final vote Thursday. The legislation will likely be approved, as council normally sides with district members regarding neighborhood issues.
Specifically, the bill allows three carts to set up shop on the southside of Cottman between Bradford Street and Bustleton and on Bustleton between Cottman and St. Vincent Street.
The spots will be up for grabs on a first-come, first-served basis, according to Lauren Atwell, Henon’s deputy chief of staff.
“It’s a great resolution” to the situation, Rossi said. “It’s allowing trucks and carts to vend and use their licenses and be able to sell.”
Sidewalk sales, including food carts, have been prohibited in Henon’s district since 1998, so, with the passage of O’Neill’s bill, the trucks effectively became illegal throughout most of the Northeast.
O’Neill said he respects Henon’s judgement within the Sixth District and is not anti-vendor. He prefers having an “opt-in” system, where food carts need to have approval and explicit permission to operate in a certain area.
In May, he told the Times he introduced his legislation to protect businesses who might be threatened by street vendors, who O’Neill said have an “unfair advantage” because they do not pay rent or certain taxes.
Rossi runs a number of food trucks and is also the owner of Nick’s Roast Beef, which has a brick-and-mortar location at 2210 Cottman Ave., near the intersection in question.
“It’s exciting,” Rossi said of Henon’s bill. “It’s the first time that something is being given back to food trucks in Philadelphia, in this sense, where a non-vending district is opening up some vending.”
Many of the city’s food trucks are in special vending districts in Center City, University City and near Temple University. None of the districts are in the Northeast. ••
Jack Tomczuk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.