|Photo by abjam77|
The sting is on. Police in Chicago have begun cracking down on illegally-stationed food trucks, allegedly using social media tools that many vendors rely upon. Over the past month, the Chicago Sun-Times reports, truck operators have been stung repeatedly with tickets and fines, putting the squeeze on what many fans of food trucks believe is a valuable contribution to urban culture.
Are the intrepid authorities tracking the city’s trucks on Facebook and Twitter? Lupita Kuri, owner of the Sweet Ride bakery, thinks so. She claims Sweet Ride was ticketed one day before even serving their first customer.
“You can’t get me for premeditated selling of a cupcake,” Kuri’s driver protested.
The police department denied accusations of a citywide crackdown on food trucks, but acknowledged they were unaware of any directives that may have been launched on a district level.
Others believe the crackdown may have been spurred by recent calls for a new city ordinance that would ease restrictions on where food trucks can do business. Current city laws prohibit food trucks from operating within 200 feet of any brick-and-mortar restaurants. Well, that’s a rigid regulation given the plethora of eateries in Chicago. This forces many meals-on-wheelsters to set up shop in loading zones, often illegally.
Apparently, when food truck owners met with city officials to cooperate, the vendors reportedly disclosed a list of some of their most popular spots. Coincidentally, thereafter police began showing up to those locations to write tickets.
Good news: Chicago Police are using social media to fight crime. Yea!
Bad news: Food trucks are a top target in a city with no shortage of criminals.
Bright spot: By turning food truck vendors into underdogs, the authorities are ensuring the vendors’ cult status as the ultimate urban hack—the simple food truck.