Naperville nixes regulations requiring permits for food trucks
Naperville City Council members narrowly rejected creating regulations for mobile food vendors in the city, ending months of debate and allowing food trucks to continue operating without permits.
The 5-4 vote at Tuesday's meeting agreed with staff recommendations, although council members were presented with a variety of options that included vendors paying the city for permits.
Proponents of regulations -- including the Downtown Naperville Alliance and the Naperville Area Chamber of Commerce -- sought to level the competitive playing field for brick-and-mortar restaurants and create an additional level of oversight for the sale of food in the city.
Opponents argued the added bureaucracy would limit entrepreneurship and was unnecessary considering only five vendors consistently operate in the city and already require a health permit from the county.
"To me it's a problem that just doesn't exist," Councilman Patrick Kelly said. "If a problem arises -- either health and safety, circulation, parking ... whatever it might be -- then we should address it. And right now we've got a good baseline of where we could address it rapidly. Staff's done the homework."
Kelly, Jennifer Bruzan Taylor, Ian Holzhauer, Theresa Sullivan and Benny White voted to reject regulations. Mayor Steve Chirico was joined by Patty Gustin, Paul Hinterlong and Paul Leong in not wanting to maintain the status quo.
"For me, it's about accountability," Gustin said. "Just making sure we have a system in place that isn't over-burdensome, but a system in place that when there is something that comes up, we can know where to go to get the answers that we need."
The issue arose in December when former Councilman Dick Furstenau complained to the city council about a food truck operating at a gas station on Ogden Avenue. Furstenau expressed concern about potential traffic congestion and zoning allowances, and the city's staff was directed to research the situation and report back to the council.
Transportation, Engineering and Development Deputy Director Allison Laff said zoning ordinances allow food service on commercial property. City attorney Michael DiSanto said that while food and beverage taxes aren't collected from mobile vendors because there's no seating as in a regular restaurant, point-of-sale technology allows sales tax revenue to come back to the city.