September 1, 2010

Boston City Hall

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I was over at City Hall yesterday. This is a picture of the plaza they are talking about parking trucks on. If you haven’t been following there is a food truck challenge the City of Boston has launched. We’re entering and really excited about the potential.

So yesterday there was a public hearing. I was contacted by some folks at the City (sorry, I’ll admit I don’t know exactly who you were when you called) and asked if I could attend. I was really glad they called because I wasn’t following this too closely on my own and wouldn’t have known about the hearing otherwise.

When I got to the City Council chambers I didn’t know what to expect. There were 2 log-in sheets: one for “Attendees” one for “Testimonials.” I wasn’t sure I wanted to present a testimony, but I think the person who called an invited me asked if I would. So after a bit of deliberation (sorry to who ever was behind me in line) I put my name on the testimonial page. But I was a little concerned because I was near the bottom of the list (arriving early is another thing I’m not good at), and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to stay all the way through to the end of the meeting due to some other commitments.

So then the meeting started, Michael Ross (I think he is City Council President? Sorry, I don’t mean any disrespect, I just don’t know much about City politics yet), asked me to speak before everybody. It was an audience of food vendors (including Speeds, M&M, Frosty, etc.). I’ve never been to a public hearing before and didn’t know what to do. They told me to come down to the microphone, which worked pretty well. But you all know I have a pretty loud voice. Not sure I needed amplification.

I kept it simple. Spoke a bit about Clover’s experience with the city (the G-rated version). Fact is Boston doesn’t really have any food trucks. There’s Speeds, M&M Ribs, and some ice cream trucks. Correct me please if I’m missing anybody, but that’s all I’m aware of. Then there are these upstarts, the newcomers like Clover and Fillbelly, etc. But there really aren’t trucks in Boston. Compare this to even Cambridge, a city that isn’t too friendly to trucks (they’ve had a standing moratorium since the late 1990s). Cambridge has at least 9 trucks that operate daily.

So from my perspective, as a lover of street food, it’s exciting to think that there might be more of it in Boston soon. We’ll see what happens. I hope it’s an open, transparent, and fair system that allows a diversity of operators to enter. I’m a fan of a simple fair open process. I’ll stand against any system that “locks up” the market. We don’t need one operator here, or one powerful business running this thing. The ideal would be a process that is open to everybody.

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