Local food vendors presented to the Vending Oversight Committee Wednesday to express concerns about problems associated with late-night vending.
Jessica Wartenweiler, co-owner of the Curd Girl food cart, said that the number of late-night food carts has increased rapidly within the past two years. She said while small businesses add to the city’s personality, it is not logical to have a large number of active vendors late at night.
Stephen Lawrence, owner of Fried and Fabulous, encouraged several vendors to attend the committee meeting and said that the result he desired was “a solution that brings everybody together and works for everybody.”
He emphasized that the large number of late-night food carts is a “perennial issue” for food carts, restaurants, customers and city staff alike, and was concerned that the response from the committee in the past was essentially a “collective shrug.”
The high density of food carts, according to Lawrence, limits the customer’s choices, detracts from the success of nearby restaurants and misses the opportunity to place more watchful eyes around the city to enhance safety.
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Lawrence repeated that the majority of food vendors supported opening up more and varied locations for food carts to control crowds, provide a range of food choices and enhance the success of local vendors, restaurants and city law enforcement.
Sharing similar views with Lawrence, James Davis, owner of JD’s Food Cart, supported the idea of spreading out vending cart locations to avoid conflict.
Davis also expressed concerns about the higher density of food carts increasing competition between vendors, forcing them to pay people to reserve parking spots because of decreased parking space.
Ariel Pesce, owner of La Empanada, explained to committee members that he wanted to “find out if you guys are willing to work with us.”
While Committee Chair Sara Richards acknowledged that the issues presented are “thorny,” the committee was not legally able to discuss late-night vending concerns because they were not indicated on the meeting agenda.
The committee agreed unanimously to discuss the concerns of the vendors during their next meeting in January.