Hot Dog Vendor: Permit Fee to Double 'All at Once'
Chiming 'Jimmy' Yang understands why fee hike is proposed, but wishes it was gradual.
Chiming "Jimmy" Yang has operated his hot dog cart on Main Street in Madison since about 1990.
In his more than 20 years in business, the annual fee for a "mobile food vendor" license from the borough has always been $500.
But if he plans to keep selling hot dogs—and he does—the fee will double to $1,000 starting next year under a new rate to be voted on by the Borough Council at its meeting Wednesday.
The fee hike is part of a proposed law that also has an element Yang sees as good news: as long as he renews his license, there would be limits on potential competition. The borough will cap the number of annual mobile food vendor licenses it gives out at three, down from the current maximum of five.
The law also adds the borough zoning officer to the location approval and enforcement process, and is designed to protect the borough's brick and mortar businesses, Councilman Robert Landrigan said in presenting the ordinance at the last council meeting.
Landrigan said the $500 increase amounts to about $2 a day and puts the fee in line with other fee increases in the borough over the years.
"As you go through other ordinances, these things kind of jump out," Landrigan said Tuesday. He said it's not to be punitive to any vendor, but to be sure the borough has a better handle on regulating vendors.
"It was time to update it," he said.
A farmer who sells produce in the parking lot behind the former Esposito's market on Elmer Street, and another food truck that operates at a cleaners were identified as the two other "mobile food vendors" in Madison.
Yang said he agrees with increasing the price somewhat, "but double is too much for me." He would have rather seen it increase more gradually, though he doesn't expect the law will change.
His operating costs also include insurance and a license from the Board of Health, he said.
Yang's wife operates a hot dog cart in Summit, the city where they live with their 10-year-old son. Yang, who sometimes practices tai chi at the cart near Waverly Place, said he plans to keep selling hot dogs because it is the business that he knows.
The public portion of Wednesday's Borough Council meeting is scheduled for 8 p.m. in Hartley Dodge Memorial.