Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Monday, April 05, 2010

Mobile Food Vendors

The Council has adopted a landmark policy allowing more types of food to be sold on the street downtown. There are ways that I don't think this policy went far enough, but I am delighted that it's gone forward.



Before this change, only highly processed and packaged foods were allowed downtown - hot dogs, junk food, that sort of thing. The new policy allows vendors to sell any sort of food, including fresh, whole foods, within the Downtown Improvement District boundaries.



I made one amendment: to allow vendors on private property (like parking lots) to use grid-connected electricity. One of my concerns has been that by making this generally good change, we may be unintentionally diminishing air quality downtown, through the proliferation of small gas generators to keep refrigerators running. My amendment changed what had been a blanket ban on cleaner energy from the grid to a more situation-dependent policy.



I also supported a staff direction offered by Council Member Hofstede, which would have directed our staff to measure what happens this year, as the first vendors come online, especially in terms of health and sustainability. Unfortunately, a majority of my colleagues voted it down.



I look forward to seeing how this works. I am very interested in taking this "pilot" and expanding it to commercial areas in my ward, such as the West Bank and Stadium Village. I'm also keen to follow other cities' leads and craft a policy that will incentivize healthier food options (as advocated by The National Policy & Legal Analysis Network to Prevent Childhood Obesity (NPLAN), here) and sustainable business practices (such as green energy, low- or no-emissions vehicles, and recycling and composting of waste). It's a great start.

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