DOWNTOWN STREET VENDORS?

Assistant City Manager Richard Knight will have his hands full between now and the end of the year. His job
will be more as a referee than as a manager; under his jurisdiction falls street vending in the Central Business
District (CBD).

Currently, the city’s ordinance for street vendors allows for sales only in the CBD. In order to sell on downtown
streets, a permit ($50 for six months) which specifies a set location must be obtained, and all food products must
be pre-wrapped. Last October, a group proposed an ordinance to remove the prewrap stipulation. One year later, the
City Council is still undecided on the issue.

The main group supporting the revision is the Street Vendors Association (SVA), headed by attorney Susan Mead
Robinson.
The SVA wants to give Dallas a New York-style atmosphere with hot dog stands, pretzel carts, ice cream
vendors -the works. One of Robinson’s chief mentors is Harlan Crow, who has supported the cause both
personally and financially. Crow says that if vendors were present, “the vitality of our Central Business District
would be dramatically enhanced. If we have this ambiance,” he says, “maybe we can get some of the ladies with blue
hair and white gloves back down here.”

But the blue-haired ladies shouldn’t put their gloves on just yet. Roy Horan, president of the Dallas
Restaurant Association, says he will fight the proposal. He says he doesn’t believe the onslaught of vendors will
hurt the restaurant business downtown, but he thinks the health department will have trouble controlling
standards.

Everett Hall, manager of environmental sciences for Dallas, says that if the nowrap law is passed, the city
will adopt the state standards for street vending, which require running water on each vendor’s cart and a
commissary where the carts can be kept overnight. Hall says the proposed ordinance is “something we could live with
but not something we prefer.”

Since the street-vending controversy arose a year ago, a related argument has come to a head: catering trucks. With
all the downtown construction, catering trucks have had a booming business in the CBD. The trucks do not fall under
the same ordinance as street vendors; they are not required to remain at a fixed location. Several small-restaurant
owners who noticed a severe drop in business recently, sent a petition to City Manager Chuck Anderson
requesting that all catering trucks be banned from a 5-mile radius of City Hall. The group claims that the
caterers have an unfair advantage since they have mobility and don’t have to pay rent or property taxes. The
restaurant owners promise to be equally adamant in their opposition to street vendors.

John Fisher, Bryan Street plant manager for Industrial Catering Lunch Services, says his type of catering is
“fair business. A restaurant owner is an independent businessman,” he says. “I have 350 independent businessmen
working for me.”

Jim Cloar, president of the Central Business District Association, says most of the people in his association
are in favor of street vending.

Knight is getting pressure from all sides. In an attempt to clear the air, he has called several open meetings. “1
want to touch bases with all these people before putting anything [a proposal to the City Council] together,” Knight
says.

Meanwhile, some downtown street vendors are prospering under wraps. According to Ken Kuehn, president of Chipwich a
la Carte of Texas, his company’s pre-wrapped ice cream sandwich is doing fine -the company grossed $75,000 in its
first five weeks.

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