Charleston City Council passes food vendor ordinance

Published: Jun. 30, 2021 at 2:00 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 30, 2021 at 8:45 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charleston City Council passed a new ordinance Wednesday that adds additional regulations to mobile food vendors. This comes after other safety measures downtown have been in place as a result of a string of violence on King Street back in May.

But not everyone is happy with council’s decision. Rolanda Bayoumi’s family owns and operates several Mediterranean food carts along King Street. She said she is devastated by the news.

“I don’t honestly know where we’re going to be able to go from here,” she said.

The ordinance mandates that mobile food vendors shut down by 1:30 a.m. and stay 10 feet from the sidewalk, among other requirements. Bayoumi said from 1-2:30 a.m. is when they see 80 percent of their business.

“Not ‘could’ destroy our business, it will essentially destroy our business,” she said. “There will be no reason for us to go out and set up and spend the money and pay our employees if we don’t get the ability to make the bulk of our business.”

According to Charleston police, public safety is the driving force of the ordinance. Officials said people were loitering after bars closed at food vendors and food trucks.

“It was keeping crowds on King Street and in other areas until three and four in the morning,” said Lt. James Byrne with Charleston Police. “That was also when we were seeing some of our most troublesome behavior. Some of the violent crime is the people getting into arguments and fights and then, like I said, the night wasn’t ending.”

The food vendor ordinance was unanimously passed in Wednesday’s meeting and goes into effect immediately. It comes alongside other safety measures that began in May like increased police and changes to traffic on King Street.

“We’re not here to punish anybody. We’re not trying to be punitive. We’re just trying use a common sense approach to make sure we have a good, healthy environment for our community,” Charleston Citycouncilman Peter Shahid said.

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