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Columbus City Council dials back plan to tighten Short North food cart hours


Columbus leaders are making some changes to a plan to make Short North-area food carts close earlier.

The proposal from the Columbus City Council originally called for carts to close by 2 a.m., in line with other Short North businesses. After conversation with food cart operators, council member Emmanuel Remy says he wants to push the closure time to 2:30 a.m.

The proposal would also require vendors to be completely packed up and out of the public right of way by 3 a.m. or face penalties.

“I believe that this draft in front of us today includes compromises and amendments that will continue to make the Short North District a thriving and dynamic community for both residents and visitors, make this area of town safer during the early hours of the morning, and will continue to give residents and visitors the option to patronize food carts, or as it’s commonly called ‘street meat’ after the bars close,” Remy said at a Wednesday public meeting.

The hours will only apply to food carts in the Short North, but could be expanded to other areas.

A representative of the Short North Alliance called the plan “a good step in fostering safety, crime prevention and support of our community.”

The move seeks to address complaints about noise and even violence around food carts operating in the early morning hours to serve people, many of them inebriated, as they leave nearby bars. The plan is still drawing plenty of criticism from food cart operators, who see it as a big cut to one of their most lucrative times of day.

Others think it lacks clarity and carries penalties that are too stiff.

“The proposal is a product of rushed work in an attempt to push through change before the next licensing season, which is April 1, with an effective enforcement date of May 1,” said Adam Wallace, the owner of several mobile food businesses.

Columbus City Council plans to vote on the new hours at their March 20 meeting. If approved, the changes would take effect on May 1.