Council tightens push-cart rules

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Raleigh ordinances give pushcart vendors better protection from rival vendors than bricks-and-mortar restaurants have from the pushcarts, a city report states.

At its Dec. 7 meeting, the Raleigh City Council voted unanimously to amend city regulations to place tougher requirements on vendors. City Attorney Thomas McCormick said one change, allowing the city to cite unlicensed vendors for violating Raleigh’s “private use of public space” rules, would become effective immediately.

The other  changes recommended by staff and the Law and Public Safety Committee will be written into an ordinance and come before the council for a vote in January.

If the changes become city law, vendors would have to keep their carts 100 feet away from the property line of restaurants, bars or outdoor dining areas, rather than the current 50 feet. Pushcart permits would rise from $60 to $150, less than the $215 staff said it costs to administer a permit.

Councilor John Odom said $150 had been a compromise: The original proposal had been to raise the fee to $300.

A hotdog cart sits downtown in front of the courthouse. Photo by Charles C. Duncan Pardo.

“They’re sitting here competing with people who have to pay rent, property taxes, a lot of different things,” councilor Thomas Crowder said. “You’re getting off pretty good if you can run a business and rent the public streets for $150 a year.”

Under the proposed ordinance, carts couldn’t be placed closer than two feet to the curb; vendors must shut up shop no later than 3 a.m.; and vendors could only take out three permits and only renew them for three years.

Currently, the committee report said many vendors take out multiple permits to cut down on competition and can hold those permits indefinitely as long as they pay the annual fee. Instead, city staff recommends holding a permit lottery for qualified vendors every three years.

Commuter rail recommendations

Councilors unanimously endorsed a city task force’s recommendations for proposed station locations for a proposed commuter railway running from Greensboro to Goldsboro.

The Passenger Rail Task Force endorsed the following proposed stops:

  • The west Raleigh station at Corporate Center Drive or the immediate vicinity;
  • The Jones Franklin Road station location, emphasizing that both the West Raleigh and Jones Franklin Road station locations are necessary to serve these growing areas of the city;
  • The station location at Gorman Street;
  • Two station locations to serve North Carolina State University, one at Dan Allen Drive and one at Pullen Road, emphasizing that both are necessary to serve university riders;
  • The station location at Whitaker Mill Road;
  • The station locations at New Hope Road, Millbrook Road, and Spring Forest Road, and,
  • The Fairgrounds station in the vicinity of Blue Ridge Road and the Fairgrounds main entrance.

The task force also endorsed:

  • Completion of the ongoing TTA ridership analysis for all downtown Raleigh alternative routes and station, including the Wilmington Street/Salisbury Street route and the Harrington Street/West Street route alternatives;
  • That TTA access to downtown Raleigh from the west should proceed via West Morgan Street starting in the vicinity of Charlie Goodnight’s, and then run on Morgan Street to Union Station and beyond. This route avoids rail conflicts in and around the Boylan Wye and provides the first east-west leg of a future cross-town streetcar/light rail link down New Bern Avenue to WakeMed and beyond; and,
  • Should the Harrington Street/West Street alternative route be selected over competing downtown routes, the PRTF endorses two proposed “government center” station locations; one between Jones Street and Lane Street, and one at Peace Street, emphasizing that both are necessary to serve state government riders.

The proposed commuter line is a North Carolina Railroad project.

$100 million bond issue

The council voted unanimously to approve a $100 million bond issue scheduled for January, to pay for items in the city’s public utility plan.

A city press release said the funding from the city’s previous bond issues will run out in Jaunary. City Manager J. Russell Allen said at Tuesday’s meeting that although the bonds would be a new issue, the council had already approved the projects list, which runs to more than 40 items:

  • $1 million to help with water quality initiatives and land conservation in the Falls Lake area.
  • $1 million in improvements for the Falls Lake pump station.
  • $3.5 million for sewer main replacements.
  • $2 million in improvements to the Crabtree Basin Wastewater System.
  • $1.9 million for the Knightdale Poplar Creek sewer extension.
  • $4.2 million to convert the Garner wastewater treatment plan to a spray-irrigation facility for disposing of wastewater.

The bond issue will include an extra $20 million to cover the interest and the cost of issuing the bonds. The council also authorized refunding some of the city’s outstanding bonds; a city report said the market hasn’t been right, but having the authorization in place will enable the city to act if the market improves.

Raleigh’s newest historic landmark

The council voted unanimously for an ordinance designating west Raleigh’s earliest apartment building, the Wilmont Apartments, as a historic landmark. The Wilmont was the first apartment building constructed west of North Carolina State University and on the south end of the Wilmont subdivision.

The Wilmont fell into disrepair and faced demolition two years ago, but now the renovated building is Raleigh’s newest historic landmark. Photo by Karen Tam.

Located at 3200 Hillsborough Street, the 1926 four story frame-construction building’s architectural significance, the ordinance says, lies in its use of Spanish Colonial-influenced details such as the stepped parapet and green tile ornamental roof. The most significant site element is that it’s placed at a light angle, making it visually more prominent when approached from the east.

When Raleigh designates a historic landmark, the owners must receive city approval before demolishing it, or altering any part of the exterior — including windows, walls, paths, fences and trees — that would change the design The city has no jurisdiction over the interior of the building.

New bike racks for downtown

The council accepted a $24,000 grant from the North Carolina Department of Transportation to install up to 75 bicycle racks downtown in areas where there’s a demonstrated demand for bicycle parking. The city doesn’t have to put up any matching funds for the grant.

3 thoughts on “Council tightens push-cart rules

  1. Good for downtown businesses. It is hard to make it with a bunch of pushcarts on every corner. Keep the food trucks out, too.

  2. Not sure how hard it is to make it with pushcarts. They offer two totally different things. Pushcarts offer those who work downtown a different option which is quicker. We don’t have to tip, we don’t feel inclined to pay $2.50 for a drink at lunch or $4 for a hot dog at a sit down establishment. Let the little guy have his fun. The brick and mortar places make up for it when they charge exhorbitant amounts for food, beverage and alcohol. As well, nobody is selling a hot dog at 6pm. The brick and mortar are open later at night and have that clientele.

  3. I am pretty sure that the Passenger Rail Task Force recommendations are for LIGHT rail stations, not COMMUTER rail stations. Having a commuter rail station every half mile like that would not make sense.