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Gewirtz Gives Candid Assessment of Food Truck Ordinance on 'Greater Somerville'

The Davis Square alderman spoke about issues involved in crafting the food truck ordinance, such as establishing a pilot program and CORI checks.

Somerville Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz, who chairs the Board of Aldermen's legislative matters committee that's currently drafting an ordinance to regulate food trucks in the city, spoke about the effort on the Sept. 18 episode of "Greater Somerville."

The committee has been working on the ordinance for about seven months, and Gewirtz was relatively candid when talking about the direction the draft ordinance has taken.

Many aldermen, for instance, want a pilot program for food trucks, but Gewirtz questioned that concept.

"The Board of Aldermen is going to look at every [food truck] application, so what does a pilot program mean?" she asked on the show.

"We crafted an ordinance which allows the Board of Aldermen to take into account every possible scenario of welfare and convenience to the city," she said.

She also said that some people in many of the city's different squares all want to be part of pilot programs, and starting a program in one square might leave others out.

On the idea that food truck operators undergo criminal offender record information (CORI) checks, Gewirtz said the committee was looking into that requirement.

Gewirtz didn't seen to think CORI checks are necessary, and she said, chuckling, "I don't understand why we're getting CORI checks from a guy who wants to have a falafel food truck or sell Chinese food."

"There are people who feel that's important, so as chair of the committee, I will, of course, we'll hear it, we'll take it into account, we'll see if that's something that makes sense."

She added, "I think we have to be cautious that we're not putting regulations on certain businesses ... that we're not applying to everybody. And how do you singal out certain businesses for these sorts of things ... where does it end?"

Another guest on the show, Christine Liu, online managing editor of America's Test Kitchen, said debates about food trucks are taking place in other communities in the area, including Boston.

A supporter of food trucks, Liu said, "The appetite for cool ideas and cool food in Somerville has come to an all-time high."

You can watch the episode here.

More on food trucks in Somerville

Opinion: Phantom Gourmet CEO on Food Trucks

Somerville Aldermen Now Mull Pilot Program for Food Trucks

Blog: Let’s Welcome Food Trucks in Somerville

Aldermen Balk at Prospect of Food Trucks in Somerville

Poll: Do You Want Food Trucks in Somerville?

Somerville Eyes Food Trucks With Eagerness and Caution

Elizabeth Rose September 23, 2012 at 01:34 PM
if you CORI check food trucks then you'll have to start CORI checking everyone...it's a bad idea that borderlines on paranoia.
Brian McCarthy September 23, 2012 at 03:44 PM
If a CORI check shows that someone pooped his pants in the 3rd grade, will he be denied a license to open a business? I can see a CORI check for ice cream truck drivers because they deal mostly with children, but not for regular businesses. Are you going to CORI everyone in the City?
AHM September 23, 2012 at 07:11 PM
They have been working on this for 7 months while the weather is nice. Would they like to be someone waiting to get a business started? Get the thing started and then work it out as it goes. That's the way to get things started and going. How is one to figure every problem until it is up and running. There used to be a time when you could take a chance and get out there and start a business on the fly. I started myself that way. If I had to wait I would never had gotten started. These people making the rules are not in the business and have no clue what it takes to get off the ground. Ridiculous. Once you see a problem you solve it. Mistakes are going to be made no matter how long you give it thought. Or is it they want to find more ways to tax and license this to make money off the poor person trying to get a business going.
Stephen J. Cronin September 24, 2012 at 01:44 AM
Alderman - What is the tax revenue gain for the City?
Courtney O'Keefe September 25, 2012 at 06:16 PM
People who open businesses in the city of Somerville should be CORI checked, yes. And, although it won't bring tax revenue to the city, it can spawn new businesses, increased foot traffic in, otherwise, unpopulated areas, and bring in fee revenue that will cover the cost of departmental sign-offs. Do I think every food truck in the world will make their way to Somerville, no, but I'd like to see what it does and a pilot program is the best way to answer that question.
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