CITY HALL — A pair of influential aldermen moved Tuesday to stop newly legalized food carts from setting up in parts of Downtown, the West Loop and River North and outside Wrigley Field.
Aldermen Brendan Reilly (42nd) and Tom Tunney (44th) both moved to limit food carts in their wards — Downtown and in Lakeview surrounding Wrigley Field — by passing ordinances through the License Committee. Both emphasized it was not across their wards, but only on specified streets where they might create or worsen "pinch points."
Reilly said that, in his Downtown ward, "certain areas are highly congested pedestrian streets." He said they could complicate "pinch points" on Downton sidewalks, not just with the carts themselves, but with the lines that queue up at them.
"Adding food carts to the mix," he said, "in certain areas of Downtown could pose additional public-safety risks."
Reilly insisted he generally supports food carts, which were only recently legalized in the city, and added that he had worked as a young man at one called Wok & Roll, selling hot dogs and egg rolls.
Tunney said it only made sense to ban the carts immediately outside Wrigley Field, given "how congested it is in that area" with Cubs games. He added that Broadway and Clark Street were also problem areas.
Maureen Martino, executive director of the Lakeview East Chamber of Commerce, echoed that, pointing out that on certain stretches of Broadway, half the addresses are restaurants with sidewalk cafes.
"It's just really, really crowded," she said.
And on Clark Street, she added, certain blocks have sidewalks so thin they barely accommodate the foot traffic to and from Wrigley.
"There's just no place at all for the carts," Marino said.
In Lakeview, carts would be banned immediately outside Wrigley Field on both sides of the street, and also on both sides of Halsted Street between Belmont Avenue and Grace Street, on Belmont between Halsted and Racine Avenue, on Broadway and on Clark between Diversey Parkway and Cornelia Avenue and on Diversey between Pine Grove Avenue and Burling Street.
The restrictions would be slightly more extensive in and around Downtown, but major areas include Greektown on Halsted between Washington Boulevard and Van Buren Street, the LaSalle Street business district between Washington and Jackson Boulevard, the Magnificent Mile and more on Michigan Avenue between Oak Street and Roosevelt Road, Rush Street between Division and Pearson streets and both State Street and Wabash Avenue between Lake Street and Congress Parkway.
The measures cleared the License Committee without opposition and head to the full City Council for final passage Wednesday.