WEST VALLEY CITY — No new taco stands will be allowed in the city until at least nine of the current stands close or are shut down by the health department.

The City Council unanimously passed an ordinance earlier this month regulating all mobile stands that sell hot foods.

The controversial change is expected to make the carts cleaner and safer by allowing city officials to enforce safety rules. The ordinance also includes spacing, signage and garbage cleanup restrictions.

Some residents who spoke at a recent meeting said the stands looked trashy and caused problems like public urination.

Stand operators have a responsibility to the neighborhoods they move into, said Pat Rapley, who lives near two taco stands and is worried about her property value decreasing.

Others complained about beer being sold illegally from the stands and said the carts make the residents feel unsafe.

The stands shouldn't be restricted just because some people don't like them, countered taco cart owner Andres Morales, who runs a stand on 3500 South in West Valley.

"I didn't come over here to try to make the city look dirty," he said. "I have two hands, I have one head. I have to think about how I can improve my life and how I can help this country."

Morales wouldn't have any way to support himself and his family without his cart, which he hopes will someday become a traditional restaurant.

"I support myself. I support my family. I'm strong," he said. "Men with goals, they have a future. My future is here. I'm in America."

Councilman Steve Vincent, an enthusiastic patron of taco carts, said the authentic carts add to the quality of life in the city.

Councilwoman Carolyn Burt said the ordinance was fair and carefully written.

"Any business that could meet these requirements on a consistent basis, it would be safe to eat there," the former restaurant owner said.

The ordinance is about improving the reputation of the city, said Councilman Mike Winder, who has been the council's most vocal opponent of the carts. Food carts can be an asset to big cities but aren't appropriate in the suburbs, he said.


E-mail: rpalmer@desnews.com