BALTIMORE (WMAR) — Sunday night, Cherry Hill neighbors came out to protest to keep convenience store trucks in their community. The city gave them two weeks’ notice to leave by Monday because of parking issues.
Neighbors said they use these trucks daily and now that they have to move out, it’s going to make the food desert situation much worse.
They are basically 7-11s on wheels, with basic goods like toilet paper and detergent. Things people would buy at the supermarket if they had one in the neighborhood.
That’s why the convenience store trucks., also called candy trucks or buses,, came to in Cherry Hill 70 years ago.
“I was raised up off the buses,” said truck owner Paul Samuels.
“I use them every day, several times throughout the day,” said Cordelia Commander. “Those are our corner stores.”
The trucks fill a void for families looking to save money, for people who need more than what the neighborhood stores provide and for the elderly.
“We have seniors that can’t even get out the house. They call and say ‘Hey can you bring me soap?’,” said truck owner Craig Johnson.
The truck owners also play mediator between issues, babysit kids when needed, and lend money.
“We help each other out here. That’s why we are a community,” said truck owner Dontay Franklin.
“There will be days where I don’t have bus fare, can’t get on the bus. I can go to the bus and say ‘Man give me $2 so I can get on the bus’,” said Darrick Johnson.
Two weeks ago, the trucks got notice that as of Monday at noon, they have to vacate or they will be towed by the city.
Community members gathered at the town center Sunday night to raise awareness.
“It don’t make no sense,” said Samuels.
In a statement to WMAR-2 News shortly after the notices were posted, the Housing Authority said:
The Cherry Hill parking area is for Cherry Hill residents and their guests only. There are several illegally or unauthorized vehicles parked within the Cherry Hill development. Some of the vehicles in question are food trucks and commercial tractors.
Notices have been distributed to vehicles alerting the owner the vehicle will be towed. Instead of giving a 24-hour notice ,we decided to give the owner of the vehicles 2 weeks. The notices are consistent with Baltimore city laws that say commercial vehicles should not be parked in residential areas.
We are not aware of any resident or owner or a vehicle having an arrangement or agreement to have their vehicle on our property.
We have no confirmation that these are official licensed food truck operations. However, we can confirm that these unauthorized vehicles interfere with residents having access to parking in their own community.
It is not appropriate for these food trucks to park on federally assisted property without our permission."
“I have a license from the state that they issued, so they’re telling us the license we get from the state don’t mean anything,” said Craig Johnson. “They said they don’t have a resolution for us right now. They are saying they want to help us get into compliance which we believe we already are in compliance.”
“We can move our buses if they are saying parking is a problem overnight. Give us a solution instead of trying to make more problems,” said Franklin.
They are holding a community cook out protest Monday starting at noon at the town center.