Late-night food carts often frequented by UW students may be phased out in the next five years as Madison officials hope to cut down alcohol-related violence downtown.
The Madison Police Department, the Economic Development Division and the city attorney's office collaborated on a draft proposal to eliminate food cart sales from designated downtown locations between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m., Thursday through Saturday by 2023. Though no formal proposal has been issued, the authors hope to introduce their plan to the city council Feb. 27.
Late night food carts around Capitol Square and State Street have caused problems since the 1990s, despite several attempts to ameliorate the issue by relocating vendors, according to Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4.
“Ultimately, I think this game of musical food carts is untenable,” Verveer said in an interview with the Wisconsin State Journal.
Over the last several years, city police have seen an increase in violence late at night surrounding the food trucks, according to Central District police Lt. Brian Austin. While violence is not encouraged by food truck owners, Austin said their presence instigates those leaving the bars to congregate.
“We just think having a reason to encourage people who are often times intoxicated to remain in the area any longer than need be after bar time is really a problematic situation,” Austin said at a meeting of the city’s Vending Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
If approved, the plan would limit specific vending zones and give the city’s vending coordinator and the police department the liberty to alter vending locations at any time during the next five years. Vendors planning to sell late-night would not be allowed to purchase permits past 2023.
City staff hope to receive council approval by the end of March, making it applicable for the 2018-’19 vending season beginning on April 15.