Food trucks and carts have long been a staple on Temple’s Main Campus, but pending the outcome of new legislation in City Council, the landscape of them may soon shift.
On Monday morning, vendors met for a hearing with City Council to discuss the details of Bill No. 150498 and express concerns. The bill includes plans to limit the total number of vendors to 50: 36 food trucks and 14 smaller carts. According to the last official count from the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections, 49 food trucks sit on Main Campus. Vendors would also be designated to assigned spots in the approved locations on Montgomery Avenue and Norris and 12th streets.
“There was a lot of good feedback,” Ralph DiPietro, deputy commissioner of the Department of Licenses and Inspections, said of Monday’s hearing. “We need to do a little bit more work in the spelling out in how the locations will be assigned … [But] generally, it’s definitely a much more orderly operation because you’re restricting vendors to a specific area.”
Vending spots would be granted to vendors based upon seniority of license ownership.
Virginia Apostolopoulos, two-year owner of The Creperie – a food truck located on 12th and Norris streets – said she was concerned about how the 50 available spots would be assigned using this system.
“Even though the truck has been there for 14 years, it’s seniority that counts as an owner, not as a truck,” she said. “People that have been there for years, it’s going to be OK [for them] because they’re not going to go anywhere.”
Vendors also said there could be potential conflict if they chose to sell their truck in the future.
“[One of] the biggest concerns that the vendors had was the devaluation of a vendor’s mobile food business in the event that the owner wants to sell or pass on their business,” Ronaldo de Luna, co-owner of El Guaco Loco, located on Montgomery Avenue, said in an email. “ A couple of us, including ourselves paid a higher premium for an old food truck because in essence we were paying for the location.”
According to the bill, vendors would be able to sell their truck but not their spot, as it would be deemed city property. Owners would pay rent to the city and Temple for usage of their vending space.
The potential benefits these changes present include increasing pedestrian safety and adding more structure and organization of the food trucks, officials said.
“It will make it easier to cross the street and use the sidewalks because there’s more structure as to where the vendors are going to be,” Bill Bergman, special assistant to the president said. “In my mind, it will be much clearer for a vendor – spots would be numbered and everyone would know where they’d go and there wouldn’t be competition where someone pulls up next to someone one day and tries to outsell them.”
Similar vending districts exist at the University of Pennsylvania and at Drexel University. However, Main Campus may not have the same variety of available customers, vendors said.
“There’s a difference down there because they’re working with people who work in the city and other type of clientele but we are strictly Temple University students and faculty members,” Apostolopoulos said. “We’re not like the other lunch trunks in the city because we don’t work with office buildings … [Main Campus] is not as busy as downtown.”
City Council will vote on the bill on June 18.
Lian Parsons can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @Lian_Parsons.