Proposed Ordinance to Free Up More Parking Spaces Uptown, Food Truck Vendors Apprehensive

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ATHENS, Ohio — The Athens City Council is considering proposed changes to street vendor licensing.

City Council Member Pat McGee introduced an ordinance to amend City Code that would decrease the number of spaces for street vendors on Union Street from 10 to eight. The ordinance would also change the payment structure for street vendor licenses from a one-time yearly payment of $1500 to a monthly fee of $125.

McGee says the payment changes will help vendors save money.

“I look at the vendors who are having to pay so much for a yearly fee and I was trying to give them some other options,” he said.

But some vendors expressed frustration over how they are being treated by the city.

“I think ultimately the issue is just that city officials haven’t seen mobile vending as a community asset in the way that a lot of other cities look at it,” said Charles Yancey, of the Atheenie Weenie food truck.

Athens Mayor Steve Patterson, who helped write the current code regarding street vending during his time on city council, voiced his feelings after the meeting, “I’ve always been huge, huge advocate of a food truck vendors that, you know, the whole food culture, especially around food trucks.”

Vendors Damon Krane of the Hot Potato food truck, Will Drury of Cajun Clucker and Brittany Yancey of Atheenie Weenie all spoke to council during the time allotted for public comments after the introduction of the ordinance.

Drury believes that the proposed changes could jeopardize his livelihood and investment in his business; he appealed to the council, “I’d like to participate more, but I wasn’t notified that something that was going to impact a significant investment was happening — I’m not sure what the motivation for that was.” Mr. Drury also mentioned that he only learned about this ordinance earlier Monday afternoon via Facebook.

McGee says that’s not true and that he’s been talking to Damon Krane since early November.

“There has been significant compromise already, the monthly reservation system that Council Member McGee is proposing at this point is what I came up with in opposition to what he initially proposed,” Krane said. “I think is a really good compromise in that it makes things better for vendors and it frees up a lot more public parking because it doesn’t force vendors to pay to reserve spots during months that they don’t plan to occupy them. That’s why there’s been the whole problem of people not being able to park in vending spots, so that’s a win-win all around.”

Monday night’s meeting was the first reading of the ordinance, 0-48-18, and two additional readings along with the opportunity for public comments will take place before the council votes. McGee is open to hearing what citizens have to say and welcomes feedback from the community.

“If they [the mobile vendors] want to petition and do some changes to it, fine,” he said. “If they have something they’re opposed to on this, tell us what they are opposed to.”