Aromas from Halal, Tex-Mex and nearly a dozen other food carts have been a staple at the Ingalls Rink parking lot for the past five years. But those familiar scents may soon disappear.
New regulations proposed by City Hall, but yet to be approved by the Board of Alders, would sell a set number of vending licenses to carts and trucks in four newly created food-truck locations in several districts: downtown, Long Wharf, Sachem Street by Ingalls Rink and Cedar Street near the Yale School of Medicine. These licenses would guarantee sellers a set location and other provisions establish rules for vending, which were never created despite the large number of trucks and carts, said Steve Fontana, the city’s deputy economic development director.
The regulations would also force the Ingalls Rink vendors out of the lot itself and onto the sidewalk in front of Sachem Street.
Carts at Ingalls Rink would likely pay roughly $1,000 to the city for a site license, Fontana said. The vendors in Ingalls Rink currently pay a parking fee of roughly $1,000 to Yale, according to Israel Campos, who owns El Poblano Mexican Food, one of about 15 carts regularly operating in the parking lot. All vendors have been paying $200 for a vending license and a $250 annual fee to New Haven’s Health Department.
Fontana aims for the Board of Alders to have a public hearing in September and then vote on the proposals in October, with an implementation by Jan. 1 of next year.
“The situation has grown and changed dramatically,” Fontana said. “We would like to improve the experiences of vendors themselves and customers. We tried to develop a system to address the situation.”
The new proposals would allow for a total of 18 carts on the sidewalk.
During the construction of the new colleges — which will be situated just next to the rink — Yale asked vendors to move from the sidewalk to the parking lot, said Joshua Barbosa, who has worked at Ali Baba’s food cart for the past decade. But as the new colleges’ completion drew closer and the city desired to regulate vendors, Yale asked that the city move the carts and trucks back onto the sidewalks, which are public property, Fontana said.
“This was a choice Yale made,” Fontana said. “We were respectful of their preference, but happy to have them in a situation where we can more clearly regulate [vendor] behaviors.”
University spokesman Tom Conroy did not respond to request for comment.
While the city has not yet decided how it will distribute licenses, some vendors are advocating for auctions and others for lotteries, Fontana said. Amidst the uncertainty, Campos said he is concerned that the city has not yet reached a decision.
In a January 2016 meeting in City Hall to discuss vending regulations, several vendors expressed interest in introducing new carts to the Ingalls Rink market. Campos added that he is concerned that his business will suffer if he cannot obtain a license.
“The city hasn’t told us who is and who might get one of the spots outside,” Campos said. “How many new ones are going to come? Is the city going to give them a chance to be next to us?”
As on Sachem Street, only carts will be allowed on Cedar Street next to the Yale School of Medicine, but trucks will still be permitted downtown and on Long Wharf.
And downtown, the ordinance that banned food vendors from residential property — which moved several food trucks and the Crepes Choupette cart last fall — still stands.
But the new regulations would also prohibit vending on Broadway between Peabody 2 and Whalley Avenue; Elm Street between Tomatillo and Gant; and Chapel Street between Temple Street and Park Street. A “substantial” number of restaurant owners and patrons have complained about vendors in those spots, Fontana said. All three blocks often host trucks, such as Ricky D’s Rib Shack, Portobello and Lunch Box 23.
Licenses will likely sell for $1,000 per year for carts and $2,000 per year for trucks downtown, Fontana said. More than a third of those funds will pay for a full-time employee to regulate food trucks and part of the rest will help the city clean up after vendors.