Councilors Offer Ordinance on Non-Motorized Street Food Carts

Special to the Times

Boston City Councilors Gabriela Coletta, Julia Mejia, and Brian Worrell have put forward, “An ordinance establishing street for enterprises in the City of Boston Municipal Code by inserting Chapter 17, Section 22, Permitting and regulation of non-motorized street food carts,” for consideration at the August 30, 2023, meeting of the Boston City Council.

“Street vending is one of the oldest informal types of commerce. Boston street food vendors can be found in all neighborhoods, however the regulations to legally sell their food, beverages and goods, remains unclear and inaccessible,” said Councilor Coletta. “We’ve modeled some of this after efforts in large cities like Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, and New York that create food entrepreneurship opportunities for people who want to start a small business but don’t have the means to buy a food truck or pursue a brick and mortar establishment. This is about creating upward economic mobility and generational wealth.”

“Our office is excited to work alongside Councilor Coletta to expand economic opportunities to our residents, particularly immigrant-owned small businesses. As a natural progression from our 2021 Retail Residential Kitchen Ordinance, we look forward to continuing to build these pathways for economic growth and close the racial wealth gap in Boston,” said Councilor Mejia.

“This ordinance would expand and protect economic opportunity for entrepreneurs, especially from communities that often lack large capital and political connections,” said Councilor Worrell. “We can not only lower costs, but make the process more accessible for those emerging business owners.”

The ordinance would amend the City of Boston Municipal Code, Chapter 17, Section 17-22, Permitting and Regulation of Non-Motorized Street Food Carts, and apply to non-motorized, street food cart operations engaged in the business of cooking, preparing, and distributing food or beverage. Additionally, permit fee charges are decreased to increase financial accessibility. The regulations establish clear, streamlined application and approval processes, along with time limits for approvals to establish predictability in business planning. It also outlines clear guidelines for operations, permit fees, and enforcement. 

This new language also proposes the establishment of a Non-Motorized Street Food Carts Committee within the City of Boston consisting of the Public Works Department, the Inspectional Services Department, the Boston Transportation Department, the Office of Economic Opportunities and Inclusion, and the Boston Fire Department for the purpose of reviewing applications for permits, establishing pre-approved vending zones, and establishing rules and regulations as appropriate.

The Boston City Council will meet on Wednesday, August 30, at 12 pm in the Iannella Chamber, 5th Floor of Boston City Hall. 

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