GLEN ELLYN, IL – Glen Ellyn has approved new regulations for downtown food carts, but trustees clashed with police officials about background checks on employees working those carts.
Trustees voted 5-1 on Feb. 23 to green light rules that require food cart owners to pay a $150 permit fee plus a $50 criminal background check on each employee over 18 years old. The ordinance limits the number of downtown food carts to three a year, prohibits music, balloons and similar advertising, and allows for one additional attachment, such as a cooler. Carts only can sell food and drink, and not any type of merchandise.
The proposed ordinance called for a $250 permit fee, which included the cost of up to two background checks on all workers, regardless of age. But the majority of the board was reticent to heap that kind of scrutiny on underage employees.
Such a policy particularly affects Erik Anderson, owner of the Sunset Slush food cart that debuted in 2014. Anderson said he wanted to use his cart to provide summer job opportunities for local teens, noting that he employed six high-school students last year and several more were interested in working this year.
“I would just hate for the cost for me to become prohibitive,” Anderson said, arguing that a food cart like his poses less risk. “While we are on wheels, it weighs 700 pounds. We’re not easily mobile, we’re right out on Main Street, half a block from the police station.”
Trustees largely sided with Anderson.
“It feels a little heavy-handed,” Trustee Tim Elliott said. “I don’t have a problem with checking the adults. I get it, we’d be safer if everyone was fingerprinted, but that argument never ends.”
“I’m not sure I can rationalize the idea of fingerprinting juveniles for that kind of position,” Trustee Dean Clark said. “I’m just not seeing the necessity.”
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