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Former Naperville City Councilman Dick Furstenau told the Naperville City Council he’s fed up with a food truck selling tacos outside an Ogden Avenue gas station, sparking a discussion on whether the city should regulate such vendors.
Furstenau, a council member from 1999 to 2011, said he thinks it’s “goofy” to park a taco truck at the Marathon station at the northeast corner of Ogden Avenue and Royal St. George Drive.
The parking area isn’t that large and the truck could hinder vehicles entering and leaving the property, he said.
Any problems will be exacerbated when it snows, Furstenau said.
“All I can say is, ladies and gentlemen, you need to make a correction there and straighten that out,” he said.
Allison Laff, deputy director of the city’s Transportation, Engineering and Development department, said city regulations prohibit food trucks from stopping anywhere on public property anywhere in the city, but that doesn’t hold true for private property.
“There is no ordinance pertaining to mobile vending on private property,” Laff said. “If we wanted to require permitting and rules for that, we would need to amend the zoning code to add those rules in.”
She added city zoning codes prevent mobile vendors from taking up required parking and they cannot disrupt any ingress or egress or ability to circulate within the site.
Laff said the taco truck at Ogden Avenue and Royal St. George Drive does not do any of those things.
“We could enforce on a complaint basis. But after I looked at the site, it doesn’t violate any of those requirements,” Laff said.
Councilwoman Patty Gustin said she agreed with Furstenau, saying the Marathon property is “unsightly” because of the food truck and the on-site U-Haul rentals.
She wouldn’t want that happening elsewhere, Gustin said, and suggested that if the city issued permits, perhaps it would control the number of food trucks parking on private land.
Councilman Paul Hinterlong also raised concerns the city isn’t collecting food and beverage tax revenue from food trucks. A permit process might ensure that, he said.
Naperville Finance Director Rachel Mayer said if the city is aware of a food truck and it is parked at a location for an extended period time, the city contacts the vendor to collect the food and beverage tax.
That was the case, Mayer said, with the shaved ice trailer SnoProblems that opened on the corner of Aurora Avenue and Webster Street across the street from the Naperville Municipal Center.
Councilman Ian Holzhauer said he would oppose unnecessary steps if they were unwarranted.
If food trucks were coming into Naperville that didn’t have proper health department licensing or vendors were not paying food and beverage taxes, then he could see need for tighter procedures, he said.
“But in general, I don’t know that tightening restrictions on a certain type of business just for the sake of doing it is the right way to go,” Holzhauer said.
“This country was built on entrepreneurship,” he said. “In general, if a business isn’t harming society or doing something noxious for the community, I would err on the side of not regulating as opposed to overregulating.”
The council took no action on the matter and did not offer staff any direction to pursue.
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