Remember when we said social media users could actually have an effect on city government? Well, it worked. Social media saved the Drexel food trucks.
Late Wednesday afternoon, Councilwoman Jannie Blackwell took to Facebook to announce that, due to feedback received from “patrons, vendors and others who cared enough to share their thoughts,” she was dropping plans to change the way food trucks at Drexel operate “at this time.” (She has since clarified to Billy Penn that the bill will not be killed entirely, yet.)
Pending legislation would have created a Drexel University District for street vendors, which would have come with many strict regulations. Most notably, the bill would have limited the number of vendors to only 25, and assigned each one to a static spot on the street, for which they would have had to pay an annual fee of $2,750.
Critics derided the ordinance as something that would “kill the food truck culture” of the Drexel area, warning that without the competition and freedom to vend on a non-regular basis, the quality and appearance of the trucks would take a dive. They pointed to the the area around Penn, where a similarly regulated district has been in effect since the late 90s, as proof of their claims.
The legislation, called Bill No. 150600, had been pending since June 18, right before City Council went on summer recess, but no one paid attention to it until a Drexel engineering student posted an online petition on Change.org.
A total of 3,313 people signed that petition, and it generated a lot of media attention. Most recently, the editorial board of The Triangle, Drexel University’s newspaper of record, came out against the bill. Though members of the food truck community say they were not directly consulted, Blackwell heard the outcry, and has apparently decided to let things stay as they are.
That may not be the end of the subject, since Drexel administration, which was thought to have instigated the legislation in the first place, may still try to get some kind of regulation enacted.
Josh Kim of Spot Burgers, who has been a vocal opponent of the bill, is thrilled with Blackwell’s decision, but wary. “Knowing Drexel, they may push back,” he said.