Some of the positives are that food trucks are trendy, they bring foot traffic and they promote an image of Geneva as a vibrant, hip, young and urban kind of place. Some of the negatives are that they require regulation and a set of new rules to be written, that they have parking and space needs and that they potentially compete with established local businesses.
Generally, City Council members on Monday gave the go-ahead for staff to continue to research the issue, but opinions were varied.
Dean Kilburg said it depends on where they're located, and they should not be allowed in downtown Geneva.
"I think food trucks in our industrial parks — that makes sense. But I think banning them from the business district (also) makes sense," he said.
Mike Bruno agreed, to some extent. "Whatever policy comes out of this, we have to make sure those with real investments are protected, but I kind of like the idea," he said. "I seem to get a sense of vitality when there’s some sort of eclectic mix."
Tom Simonian said he would want to protect existing businesses first.
"Every dollar that goes into one of those trucks is a dollar less going to our merchants," he said. "We’re not downtown Chicago. That’s just my opinion."
But he added later that he would not oppose a Geneva business operating a food truck after closing hours, for example.
"If it’s in cooperation with a city establishment, it’s helping support that particular business," he said. "In a case like that, you’ve got the endorsement and support of the local merchant, and I don’t think you would get a lot of push-back."
Mayor Kevin Burns said the city could regulate such businesses by allowing a limited number of permits, by limiting the time period of a permit and by limiting the hours of operation.
"I agree with Dean — the industrial parks, that’s fine. I also agree with Mike," he said. "My personal opinion is that hours are the great regulator here."
What would you do if you were an alderman? Would you look into regulations or just say no thanks to trendy food trucks in Geneva?