Lunch options in Oakland may be about to get even more limited than we expected.
As Oakland habitués are already aware, a city park will soon take the place of the parking lot between Pitt's Hillman Library and the Carnegie Library, displacing food vendors who park their trucks in that lot. Their permits expired Jan. 31, and the city will renew none right now, says Vinay Patidar, whose business, Kashmiri, has been selling Indian food in the lot for six years. The vendors have been told they can stay until the end of the month.
Meanwhile, across the street, Gene Scott -- Scottie the Hot Dog Vendor -- has been quietly fighting for three years to keep selling hot dogs in front of Hillman, where his cart has been stationed since 1990. He has not had a permit since city law changed at the end of 2001, requiring vendors to apply to sell from a specific spot. His lawyer, Joseph Chester, says he filed a complaint against the city in the Court of Common Pleas on April 26, 2002, trying to find out why his permit was denied -- and arguing that it should be granted. The suit also names the University of Pittsburgh, Chester says, charging both parties with harassing Scott.
"All that Scott wants to do is plead his argument that it's a good location," says Chester. "The university was intruding into matters that they had no direct interest in."
Pitt spokesperson John Fedele says the university does not comment on pending litigation.
Although the trial got underway in January, it has been recently delayed. A negative verdict for Scott may cause the city to act on his long-time lack of a permit.
"The complaint says, 'Give us a hearing in front of City Council,'" Chester says. "'We're sure to convince you.'"