Civic beat

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April 11, 2011
By: Nick Halter
Nick Halter
Proposal would expand mobile food vendors to Northeast, elsewhere

The city of Minneapolis has proposed expanding the opportunities for mobile food vending into several areas of the city, including 22nd Avenue NE.

Last year, the city opened up Downtown to mobile food vendors, allowing for small shacks to park on sidewalks and in lots while selling cuisine. The city licensed 10 mobile food vendors in 2010.  

A proposed amendment to the mobile vending ordinance would allow for expansion into Minneapolis Park Board property, the Midtown Global Market, the Midtown Greenway, West Broadway, Uptown and Cedar-Riverside.

On 22nd Avenue, vendors would be allowed from University Avenue to Central Avenue.

The changes would also allow mobile vendors to park their vehicles on city streets while following regular parking regulations. Currently, the units must be parked on sidewalks or in lots.

At an April 4 meeting of the city’s Regulatory, Energy and Environment Committee, a few Downtown property owners testified that the city was allowing street food too close to existing restaurants that pay rent and property taxes. The proposed changes would require vendors to be 100 feet from the front of existing restaurants on the same side of the street.

Jim Durda, the vice president and general manager of Inland American Office Management, which owns the IDS Tower, wrote a letter signed by other Downtown business leaders that raised concerns over the effects the food trailers have on deteriorating Nicollet Mall pavers. Those pavers are 18 years old and business owners pay for their maintenance and repairs.

But mostly, City Hall was filled with current and aspiring mobile food vendors who supported the expansion.

That included Natalie Coleman and Alex Brand, the owners of Dandelion Kitchen, a shack that last year parked on Nicollet Mall between 7th and 8th streets and sold local, organic sandwiches, salads and homemade soda.

They said street food adds to the vibrancy of the city. It also allowed the couple, who are in their mid 20s and live in Southwest, to start a business even though they couldn’t afford to renovate and rent a “brick and mortar” restaurant.

They said their shack is providing them a stepping-stone to someday opening a full restaurant.

City Council Member Lisa Goodman (7th Ward), the author of the original mobile food vending ordinance, spoke strongly in favor of the changes. She says street food has provided minorities entrepreneurial opportunities.

“We are extremely proud as a city of what we’ve accomplished, with what we have allowed to flourish, with the work of these very successful entrepreneurs, and I’m very proud to call myself their partner,” she said.

The amendments to the ordinance will go before the full City Council on April 15.

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Hennepin County Library? Yep, there’s an app for that


The Hennepin County Library on March 22 launched an application that can be downloaded on most smart phones and allows users to reserve books, renew items, find libraries and more.  

The app also allows users to search library catalogues, check events, see new titles, chat with library staff and connect to the library through Facebook and Twitter.

Senior Librarian Meg Knodl said the library won’t know how many people have downloaded the app until later in April, but she said library users gave lots of positive feedback in the first week after the application launched.

The app was funded by the Metropolitan Library Service Agency.

To download the app, go the library’s homepage, hclib.org, or visit hclib.boopsie.com

Reach Nick Halter at nhalter@mnpubs.com.