Philadelphia readers who caught our coverage of Portland’s successful experiment with “mobile food clusters,” and attempts to bring a similar system here, may not have to wait too long for food pods of their own.
In a phone interview yesterday, Councilmember Mark Squilla confirmed he has been “working with the Mobile Food Association,” the city’s Law Department and the Department of Licenses and Inspections to craft a new set of zoning ordinances that would change the way the city regulates food carts and trucks. Squilla said that he anticipates having a final draft of the new ordinance “hopefully, before November” of this year.
Squilla also confirmed that the new ordinance would specifically address the use of food trucks and carts operating “on private land…and vacant lots, where appropriate.” This would allow trucks and carts to move beyond the 400 currently approved sites for food vendors, nearly all of which are in parking lanes, and onto slots leased from private landowners.
Additionally, Squilla said that he also was working with the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association (PMFA) to identify new locations, in neighborhoods such as Northern Liberties of areas of South Philly, that may be suitable for expanding or redistributing the 400 approved vendor locations.
“We want to make sure that we come up with something that works better for everybody involved,” said Squilla, who added that the PMFA would have a chance to comment on the final version of any new zoning ordinance to ensure that it meets the business community’s expectations for a less restrictive code.
Ryan Briggs is an investigative reporter based in Philadelphia. He has contributed to the Philadelphia Inquirer, WHYY, the Philadelphia City Paper, Philadelphia Magazine and Hidden City.