Aug 23, 2012
Kim Rivers

Controversial food truck ordinance also regulates Chicago ice cream trucks

The dust is still settling after the debate over Chicago’s controversial food truck ordinance, but operators of one type of food vehicle are just now joining the conversation.

The food truck ordinance opened up a new market for tacos, cupcakes and even stuff cooked right on the spot, but major players in the ice cream truck business say their interests weren’t considered as aldermen went back and forth over how to expand street food options while protecting brick-and-mortar restaraunts. 

Like other licensed vendors, or “mobile food dispensers” as the city calls them, ice cream truck drivers can’t park near restaurants, they can’t sell treats too close to official “truck stands” that are already occupied, and they must install GPS devices, according to the food truck ordinance.  

Alex Sadeghi, owner of Pars Ice Cream on Chicago’s West Side, said the ordinance makes it difficult to do business.

“You get 100-120 good days [in a year], and you have to really be organized and efficient to break even. And with all this rule and regulation, and what they’re imposing on us it’s better off to not even do it,” he said. 

A spokeswoman from the city’s Department of Business Affairs claims the ordinance opens up options for all mobile vendors, including ice cream trucks operators. She said the stand program, for example, gives mobile food vendors the ability to park where it may have been illegal to park before.

Yet, ice cream trucks must continue to comply with old restrictions that keep them off many streets in 10 different wards, in addition to the guidelines set in the food truck ordinance. Wards 2, 11, 13, 14, 18, 19, 21, 23, 30 and 47 (map) all have old laws on the books, some dating back to the 1990s. At the time, several aldermen wanted to ban ice cream trucks from their communities out of fear for children’s safety. In some cases, aldermen claimed that drivers were involved in the illegal drug trade.  

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