An amended ordinance governing mobile vendors throughout Allentown has won the backing of a city council committee.
The community and economic development committee recommended Wednesday night that city council approve the revised ordinance, although some details still need to be ironed out
City administration officials said updating the ordinance was necessary because of the increased number of applications for mobile vendor licenses over the last few years.
Currently only mobile vendors in the Hamilton Street district are regulated by the ordinance. The city allows up to eight vendors to operate in the district, but only five are doing so now, officials said.
Overall, the city has issued 21 licenses for mobile vendors, with all but five of the vendors living in Allentown, said Duane Toleson, business development liaison for the city's community and economic development department.
The hours that mobile vendors will be allowed to operate will be determined by the community and economic development director, according to the revised ordinance.
Todd Collins, the department's business development director, said the intent of the amended ordinance is "not just control, but to encourage mobile vendors in appropriate ways."
Collins said the changes will result in a "comprehensive ordinance," noting that language used to regulate mobile vendors in other city ordinances has been incorporated into the amendments.
The ordinance creates a Vendor License Review Committee, which will determine if a vendor's cart or motor vehicle looks appropriate and the items being sold are in direct competition with bricks and mortar establishments nearby, said Collins.
If the committee denies a license to an applicant, the ordinance says the decision can be appealed to the city's managing director, who will have final say.
Committee member Julio Guridy said he was uncomfortable with just one person having that power. "Personally, I prefer it would be [a committee of] three people," he told Collins. "… See if you can come up something that's fair."
Committee member Peter Schweyer disagreed with Guridy, saying such a setup would likely delay applicants from getting a prompt decision. "The bigger the organization, the longer the process," he said.
Guridy wasn't swayed. "I don't think it will be an issue. Three people makes [the decision] more palatable, more justified."
Guridy also asked administration officials to consider adding specifying in the amendment just how close a mobile vendor could be to bricks and mortar establishments.
"I'm sure the [the owners of the Brew Works] don't want somebody selling hamburgers in front of their place," Guridy said.