Amid complaints from neighbors about trash along the lakefront, Evanston’s City Council voted Monday night in favor of allowing push cart food vendors, but against food trucks.
Ald. Devon Reid (8th) suggested the compromise plan after concluding he didn’t have the votes to bring both types of food vendors to Evanston’s beaches this summer.
Health Director Ike Ogbo said the city currently has two licensed food trucks, but only one licensed push cart.
The argument in favor of push carts over the trucks was that they would be less noisy and create less pollution because they don’t have generators.
Two council members representing lakefront wards, Eleanor Revelle (7th) and Melissa Wynne (3rd), voted against the plan. Revelle said the proposal would commercialize the lakefront and create litter problems. But the third council member representing a lakefront ward, Ald. Clare Kelly (1st), voted for it.
Ald. Tom Suffredin (6th), noting that neighbors voicing opposition to the plan said there was already a trash problem along the lake, said the city needs to fix that problem, whether it approves food trucks or not.
City Manager Erika Storlie said the biggest issue is that people don’t put trash in the trash cans the city provides.
She suggested that for next year’s budget the city could plan to have trash monitors working all day along the shoreline, rather than just have trucks visit periodically for trash pickups. But, she said, that would add to the cost of lakefront operations.
Suffredin suggested the food trucks could generate tax revenue that could be used to address the trash problem and noted that Wilmette has a catering business that operates at its lakefront Gillson Park.
But don’t expect to see a push cart at the beach this weekend. The measure still needs final approval, scheduled for the next City Council meeting on July 26, and a decision by a push cart operator to seek city permission to operate on the lakefront.
If you’re looking for outdoor dining along the shore in the meantime, you could try Northwestern University’s Lunch on the Lake events at noon on Wednesdays the rest of this month.