Each of Temple’s food trucks could be relocated and assigned to 50 spots in a proposed food vending district by City Council, pending passage of a bill that is sitting in Mayor Michael Nutter’s office.
If there are more than 50 trucks, spots will be given based on the seniority of food truck licenses, which will be determined by the city’s Department of Licenses and Inspections.
If Nutter signs Bill No. 150498, passed by City Council on June 18, Temple will adopt the district for the spring semester.
The bill stipulates that one truck owner can own only one spot on Main Campus. The spots are confined to Montgomery Avenue and Norris and 12th streets, and vendors would be required to be open four days per week year-round.
Virginia Apostolopoulos, who has owned The Creperie on 12th and Norris streets for the past two years, said she’ll need to adjust to remaining open year-round and relocating.
“Our business depends on the weather and on students. … So typically, we only work four to five months out of the year,” Apostolopoulos said. “But downtown, Philadelphia follows the same rules and regulations, so they’re just bringing that up here.”
The University of Pennsylvania adopted a food vending district in the 1990s, and Drexel is considering a similar district on its campus. Bill Bergman, special assistant to the president, said Temple has been thinking about a potential food vending district since last spring.
“There was always a thought that there were more and more vendors showing up, and they would just come all day and then sell their space,” Bergman said. “And the fact is, how do you control them? … This place has a long history of food trucks, everyone from staff to students to workers in the area have their favorite truck. … So the bill had to be done in a way so that those owners have a chance to do their business and everybody could be happy that they still have their favorite truck.”
Rafael de Luna, a co-owner of El Guaco Loco on Montgomery Avenue, said there was initially opposition to the bill until a productive meeting between food truck owners and Temple administration last Tuesday.
According to the bill, the spaces in the new vending district are “non-transferable,” meaning that truck owners cannot pass ownership of their trucks to family or friends.
“Transferability is still a big issue,” de Luna said. “But one of the things that came out of the meeting is us saying, ‘Let’s see how this plays out during the next year.’ … Then, we can go to Temple and say what works and doesn’t work, and amend the legislation accordingly.”
Bergman said another one of the issues that led to the bill’s creation was safety. Trucks that overcrowd certain spots on campus can make it dangerous to cross the street, he said.
He added that the new district is not meant to take away from Temple’s food trucks, but simply to reorganize them.
“It’s part of the culture of this place,” Bergman said. “No one is saying do away with that culture. We’re saying, ‘Let’s organize it and keep it in a better format then we have now.’”
Steve Bohnel can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @Steve_Bohnel.