City Council continues to weigh proposal to limit food cart hours in Short North

The testimony continues on a city proposal to limit food cart hours in the Short North neighborhood of Columbus, one of many ideas to reduce crime and noise in the area. Proponents of the city’s growing mobile food scene say the trucks and carts are an entry point for entrepreneurs, bringing vibrancy and diversity to the streets. But critics say it brings more and more noise, litter and crime to neighborhoods.

Betsy Pandora of the Short North Alliance says the number of nighttime businesses and activities in the Short North has increased by more than 60% since 2015, and security concerns increase as the evening wears on. She says the Short North Crime Prohibition Program, a partnership with the city, has conducted more than 550 security interventions so far this year, particularly late at night and when foot traffic is high. Melaine Mahaffey owns commercial and rental premises on North High Street, and says noise levels and food cart customers affect the neighborhood long after closing hours

“Our new streetscape sidewalks are now a permanent embarrassment. My sisters and I spend every weekend morning picking up trash from food carts, scrubbing grease and vomit. Tenants regularly complain about the noise and fights that happen many times until after 4 a.m. food carts leave at 3 – which they often don’t – crowds don’t”

But the committee also heard from food vendors that they are not the source of the problems in the area. “eyes and ears in the street”. Wallace says — rather than limiting food carts to neighborhoods like the Short North — the city should embrace them.

“The city needs to increase the number of food carts in the Short North, as well as the number of businesses that have grown, so we can handle the increased volume more quickly. Extend our hours of operation so we can continue to be the ‘eyes and ears of the police.’We are invested in the neighborhoods we serve, and the date shows it.

Longtime Short North resident Eric Jolie says he appreciates the city’s efforts to improve conditions in the Short North. But he says the city must first accept responsibility for creating the situation.

“It’s no longer the ‘resurgent success story of Short North’ that received rave reviews from The New York Times…Instead, it has become oversaturated with late-night establishments, many of which have owners relocated from campus and Park Street. So I asked the city to consider the number of liquor licenses, outdoor patios and late-night party venues is too much for a neighborhood.”

The proposals to cut opening hours for food carts and reduce noise violations come after a summer of complaints about rising crime, including fatal shootings. Another hearing is scheduled for December 6.