You’ve probably been just about as fond of the city’s recent attempts to spit-shine its downtown appearance into a dull and welcoming blur as we have. First came the logic-free talk of extending drinking hours so that bars would have to bear the brunt of public safety while swimming in adolescent puke (that plan was swiftly hosed away). Then there was the food truck pilot program, which, via a series of complications and permitting issues, made it look an awful lot like the city wasn’t interested in mobile eateries frequenting hotspots with any regularity. Everything needs to be aligned just so, you see. We can’t have anything not in its designated place, the city’s newfound obsessive-compulsive disorder seemed to indicate.
Well, last week the food truck battle got a little weirder when somebody over at the Facebook page for the Central Florida Food Truck Alliance pointed out that not only was the new packet of regulations a clusterfuck for food truckers and the hipsters who love them – it could also be coming after your downtown pre-hangover hot dog. Sidewalk tubesteak carts are on the way out. Say it ain’t so!
“The [food truck pilot] program allows for vendors to locate on private plazas within our downtown core area,” Orlando Director of Strategic Partnerships Kathy DeVault said in an email exchange with a concerned reader. “Our sidewalks are fairly narrow for an urban environment, especially considering our downtown can have up to 25,000 bar and nightclub patrons on any weekend night. Unfortunately, there isn’t much room to allow for vendors and safely allow for the pedestrian activity.”
Because you’ve certainly had trouble squeezing past the hot dog stand on the corner, right? Anyway, it seems that the city is ultimately doing the same broadstroking it’s done to food trucks with the carts, saying that the laws already exist, but the vendors abuse them. Oh, and also, they’re filthy.
“In addition, our downtown has experienced a fair amount of negative outcomes from sidewalk vendors illegally operating on the right-of-way,” DeVault continues. “Some have neglected to care for the streets, sidewalks, trees and drains near where they have been operating, forcing the city (at great expense) to clean or repair damage caused by vendors. Due to the mobile nature of the industry, it is difficult to determine who caused the damage and recover the costs.”
Remember when downtown was fun?