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Columbus food truck vendors may face new restrictions

A food truck serves lunch at the Columbus Commons Food Truck Food Court in downtown Columbus in 2019.
Jo McCulty
Ohio State
A food truck serves lunch at the Columbus Commons Food Truck Food Court in downtown Columbus in 2019.

Columbus city officials said residential complaints regarding late-night activity surrounding food trucks are spurring new citywide legislation.

Columbus City Council will be considering legislation that would restrict the trucks. A new noise ordinance is also being considered.

Residents first raised concerns about “crowds of intoxicated people” congregating around food trucks late at night, leading to disruptive and sometimes violent behavior, said Columbus Director of Public Safety Robert Clark.

"I applaud the department of public safety for holding multitude multiple opportunities to go out and talk with these vendors issue citations when necessary and to let them know that we are watching what they're doing in the community,” said Councilman Emmanuel Remy.

Many of the issues are concentrated in the Short North.

“It is no secret we have seen an uptick in violence and other challenging activities throughout the Short North recently especially at night some of these challenges occur because of loitering near mobile food vendor locations,” Remy said.

City council could modify where the businesses can set up and reduce the hours they can operate.

"Over the next couple of months the city will be reviewing their legislation that the mayor sends forth and we will be working to come up with a comprehensive plan to make sure that the violence has ended around these mobile food vending operations,” Remy said.

The strategy is one in a myriad meant to address violent crime in the city.

City officials said they are working on legislative and policy fixes to improve safety in the city.

Columbus Police Chief Elaine Bryant said efforts are paying off. There were 116 homicides by this time last year, and 76 so far this year. That's a 35% reduction, she said.

Detectives have closed 56 cases this, 42 from this year and 14 from previous years.

Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said other strategies include spending more on increased lighting and cameras, consulting with anti-violence strategists and tackling the circumstances that can lead to crime. Special operations are targeting drug and gun crimes and moving violations, and prosecutions are being coordinated for a targeted response.

Renee Fox is a reporter for 89.7 NPR News.