Will the mobile food vehicles be too heavy for sidewalks in downtown Minneapolis? That's just part of the fight.
As applicants for mobile food vending licenses still waited Friday for permission to set up in downtown Minneapolis, backstage infighting over the issue went on between two influential downtown figures.
Some 13 applications are pending while regulatory and public works staffers are caught between contrary pressures exerted by City Council Member Lisa Goodman and Sarah Harris, who heads operations for a service district created last year by downtown businesses.
Goodman led the revision of city ordinances this year that was supposed to open up downtown to vendors of freshly made food from vans or trailers larger than the handcarts that have been allowed downtown.
But Harris, of the Downtown Improvement District (DID), has raised multiple objections. Her main contention is that the vans or trailers could damage the sidewalks for which downtown property owners are assessed, and could block retailers and passersby.
"We in the business community are fighting very hard not to have these vehicles up on the sidewalks," she said.
The issue is acute for the Nicollet Mall, where a weather-deteriorated base is causing more and more paving stones to wobble. Repairs just to keep the mall safe have reached $250,000 a year, Harris told city officials.
The city is requiring vendors to carry a hefty insurance policy that includes damage to property.
Goodman concedes the mall needs attention, but she claimed Harris is reaching when she raises similar objections regarding Hennepin Avenue. Harris argued that a 7,000-pound trailer is too heavy for Hennepin's 4-inch-thick sidewalks, noting that driveways there are 8 inches thick. Goodman said DID vehicles have parked on the mall's Peavey Plaza.