In the fall of 2008, the Charlotte City Council approved an ordinance that in effect put the majority of hispanic mobile food vendors (Loncheras) out of business. The ordinance states that a mobile food vendor may not be within 400 feet from a home; must close by 9pm; and may only be in a specific location for no more than 90 days.
Loncheras are small businesses trying to survive in the current bad economy. In an economic atmosphere where many are out of work, Loncheras employ people locally. As hard-working tax payers who pay for permits to do business, they help stimulate the local economy. Ask the Charlotte City Council to ammend the ordinance and allow these hard-working valuable members of our community to go back to work.
Charlotte City Council, Support Small Businesses, Support Loncheros
Dear Council Member,
I am writing to ask that you repeal parts of Section 12.510 –titled Mobile Food Vending Service- of Appendix A of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Charlotte. Mobile Food Vendors are a culinary and cultural treasure and are economic engines for the areas in which they operate. I fully support these mobile food vendors in their quest to remain open for business.
As with any rules that regulate any other parts of our daily lives, I am not opposed to regulations, as long as they promote the general good. I just ask that you do not regulate in such a manner as to put these hard-working productive members of our society out of business. In an economic atmosphere where many are out of work, mobile food vendors help by employing people. As valuable tax-paying members of our community who pay for permits to work, they also help stimulate the economy.
The specific parts of Section 12.510 that require a 9PM closing time and a distance of 400 feet from a residence have forced many vendors to go out of business. The hours and locations of operation are what used to make these mobile food vendors successful. The sections in the ordinance that deal with duration in a particular location are also too strict and needlessly create a barrier to building a sustainable clientele.
Like any other small private enterprise, mobile food vendors are taking the initiative and have chosen to open their own businesses. They are trying to survive in the current economy, and regulations like the ones the Charlotte City Council passed in the Autumn 2008 only work to deter the growth and productivity of small businesses.
We know that you only have the best interest of the citizens of Charlotte in mind and that you are a pro-small business governing body, but the ordinance as it was approved is unfortunately written so narrowly that it singles out small business owners of a specific ethnic group. We know this was not your intent and hope to work with you on this matter.
The ordinance originated based on complaints that these businesses increase crime and loitering. In spite of the numerous requests, the individuals raising these concerns never produced any evidence to substantiate their claims. Instead, the ordinance was based on what the Zoning Department admitted were just “perceptions”.
I believe there is room to allow these small business owners the leeway to stay open a little later and to work in what are already considered business corridors. Additionally, in order for these vendors to build a sustainable clientele, it makes sense to lift the overly burdensome 90-day limit on duration in a location. It is only fair that they be afforded the same consideration and support that is given to other small businesses in other parts of our great city.
It is my hope that as a member of the Charlotte City Council who is responsive to the needs of your constituency, you will support these hardworking small business owners and amend the ordinance in order to allow them to go back to work and be able to provide for their families.