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City Council Panel OKs Food Truck Plan

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A City Council panel has signed off on a plan that would legalize food trucks that cook their food on board, over the complaints from both food truck owners and traditional restaurants.

Food trucks already operate in the city, but are not allowed to cook the food on board the vehicles. Instead, they've had to prepare the food in commercial kitchens, then just keep it warm while taking the trucks out on the street.

The ordinance would require the food trucks to keep at least 200 feet away from brick-and-mortar restaurants, a measure that drew complaints from food truck owners, who said it could run them out of business by limiting them to remote spots that do not get much food traffic.

Truck owners also complained about a requirement for food trucks to install GPS devices to monitor their locations, as well as plans to restrict them to designated "food stands," where each truck would only be allowed to set up shop for two hours at a time.

Truck owners also took issue with the fact fines for parking within 200 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant range from $1,000 to $2,000, while fines for health code violations are only $250 to $500. They say it's unreasonable that the fine for operating too close to the competition is higher than the penalty for violating health codes.

Restaurant owners were also upset with the ordinance, claiming the food trucks would cut into their business when many restaurants are already struggling to stay afloat.

The Committee on License and Consumer Protection voted to send the ordinance to the full City Council, which meets next Wednesday.

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