Updated on April 25 at 12:36 p.m.
The city will require food truck vendors to move each night from their spots on Main Campus which could impact vendors’ continued business at Temple University.
The city’s Licenses and Inspections department will not begin enforcing a 2015 regulation for food truck vendors in the Philadelphia Code, which makes it illegal to park and leave food trucks on city streets overnight, until discussions with vendors take place, wrote Karen Guss, a spokesperson for the department, in a statement.
“As the Department should have done prior to initiating enforcement of these provisions, L&I will engage over the summer with vendors and other stakeholders to explore and address their concerns,” Guss wrote.
The department apologized for any “confusion or distress” it may have caused by announcing enforcement would start on May 20.
The ordinance was previously not enforced for trucks at the university because the city lacked the resources to do so, said Matt Rossi, president of the Philly Mobile Food Association.
The approximately 40 food trucks on Main Campus were given permanent spots as part of a bill establishing the Temple University District for truck vendors, which provided more structure to their businesses, The Temple News reported in 2016. Since they’ve been assigned these spots, most truck owners leave their food trucks on campus year-round.
Trucks in violation of the ordinance will be ticketed or towed by the city, according to the 2015 bill.
The rule’s enforcement could affect the viability of food trucks on Main Campus, some of which have been there for more than 40 years, like Richie’s Lunch Box on Norris Street near 12th.
Due to the overnight parking restrictions, it’s impractical for some vendors to spend time finding parking spots with connection to power on a daily basis since they are not permitted to use generators, said Angie Melchin, an employee at Cloud Coffee, which is parked on Norris Street near 12th.
“In order to keep our refrigerators running and our food from spoiling, we would have to run generators while we look for a place to park, which Temple didn’t want to begin with,” Melchin said. “It’s a logistical nightmare.”
The vendors on Main Campus “should have been aware of the law and should have been prepared to begin abiding by it,” wrote a spokesperson for City Council President Darrell Clarke in an email to The Temple News.
Vendors were notified by the Office of Community Relations on April 17 about the ordinance enforcement, which was set to begin on April 29, but the university received an extension from the city. The Licenses and Inspections department pushed back enforcement on Wednesday, promising to discuss the ordinance with vendors.
“We have no time,” said Lilly Dzemaili, the owner of Richie’s Lunch box. “We’ve been trying to get a meeting [with the university] but nobody will meet with us.”
More than 1,700 people have signed a petition to “Save Temple University Food Trucks” as of Wednesday morning.
The university emphasized that this is a city ordinance, enforced by the city, not Temple.
“Temple University maintains strong, working relationships with the nearly four dozen independent food vendors on campus,” a university spokesperson wrote in an email to The Temple News. “The food trucks are a staple of the Temple experience.”
In addition to the ban on overnight parking, there is also now a specific time that food deliveries and trash pick ups need to be made, Melchin said. Having 40 trucks receiving deliveries at the same time will create a traffic nightmare, she added.
“It’s really tone deaf.” Melchin said. “They aren’t even asking or paying attention to what the students want.”
“It wouldn’t be Temple without the food trucks,” said Kaitie Kirsch, a freshman health professions major. “It’s in every orientation, people talk about them, it’s such a part of our culture.”
Sydney Tristani, a junior sociology major, said she includes the food trucks in presentations about the university she gives at local high schools.
“The food trucks have been here forever,” Tristani said. “[The ordinance is] putting people at a distinct disadvantage for something that makes up their livelihood.”U