As spring makes a tentative appearance in Philly, office workers might wonder what ever happened with plans outlined last fall to shake up outdated regulations that limit operations of lunch trucks in the city. The short answer: not much.
Six months after Councilman Mark Squilla outlined a plan to expand trucks’ options by allowing them to operate on private property, little has changed. Squilla had hoped to introduce a bill by last November, but his office reports he is still waiting for feedback from the city Law Department on what the regulations should look like. That’s putting the brakes on what should be a burgeoning industry, says Philly Mobile Food Association (PMFA) president Dan Pennachetti, who owns Lil’ Dan’s Gourmet Lunch Truck. “You cannot put a new food truck anywhere in Center City other than LOVE Park. And they’re closing for renovations next year,” says Pennachetti. He says he’s spoken with every City Council member over the last year — but hit a wall with the administration. Nutter’s office, he says, “turned down calls for a meeting and invitations to come down to the trucks in LOVE Park.” (A spokesman says the mayor does frequent the LOVE Park food trucks, but has no sway with the Law Department on pending legislation.)
He says PMFA membership has tripled in the last year, driven by the influx of innovative new mobile vendors focused on healthier options. But the number of approved sites for vendors — 250 — hasn’t increased in years, and many neighborhoods have no food-truck slots at all. In the interim, Squilla and the PMFA have been working on bringing vendors to certain city-owned properties. The City Hall courtyard was supposed to be the first target. But there could be another snag. “They’re supposed to open a café on Dilworth Plaza, and they need to make sure [the trucks] won’t interfere with that,” Pennachetti says.
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