Food Truck Location Offends Some John Street Residents
One resident crafting a warrant article to ban mobile food trucks from public ways in Brookline.
When the Selectmen approved the food truck locations in early February, there were two late additions to the program--it is to one street in particular that several residents took offense: Pleasant Street.
The Board of Selectmen approved the regulations for a food truck pilot program, and a number of locations around Brookline. Nine food truck vendors have applied to the program. On April 10, the Selectmen will hold a public hearing on the individual licenses for food trucks. They will determine whether the program has been a success after the six-month pilot ends.
The method of this pilot program was criticized by Stanley Spiegel, Town Meeting Member for precinct 2, who said there was no criteria to judge whether or not it was successful.
"As it stands now, I don’t see any objective way for you to judge whether it’s successful," he said, calling it "a pilot program basically without an exit strategy."
Spigel also hinted that he was crafting a warrant article for the May Town Meeting which would prohibit food trucks from operating on the town's public ways. He believes parking could become an issue in Coolidge Corner and pointed out that the parking spaces on John Street are sometimes used by people walking to Brookline Booksmith or Trader Joe's, as well as the many restaurants in the neighborhood.
"I think it’s inappropriate that none of the Town Meeting Members abutting the areas were informed or consulted," Spiegel said. "If this board won’t reach out to its Town Meeting Memebers, it’s up to Town Meeting to take a stand."
Resident Martin Yaseen "strenuously objected" to the presence of food trucks at the John Street and Pleasant Street intersection, "filling the air with repugnant food and grease odors."
A resident of the neighborhood for 27 years, Yaseen expressed concern for the young mothers and infants who use both sidewalks, worried about them having to navigate large groups of food truck customers. He referenced neighbors taking offense to the location, and explained that his goal is "to preserve what little tranquility we have."
He added that the Friday night and weekend hours of that location displayed "shocking ignorance of the citizens you [the Board] represent," adding that they are largely during Shabbat, the Jewish day of rest.
"The decision with respect to time was because Jerusalem Pita wasn’t open at those times." Selectman Dick Benka explained that, "we recommended those times so as not to compete."
Town Meeting Member Robert Basile commented that he couldn't imagine the Chamber of Commerce supporting the program. He added that he spoke to several restaurant owners in the neighborhood, one of which said he hoped the pilot program fails.
Benka noted that, during the outreach for the pilot program, Economic Development Officer Kara Brewton did reach out to the Chamber of Commerce, and Coolidge Corner Merchants Association, neither of which objected. Boca Grande, located on John Street, also expressed no objection to the food truck location.
Selectman Chair Betsy DeWitt added that a public hearing for the individual food truck licenses is scheduled for April 10. She invited the residents to return then to speak more for or against the food truck program.