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HAMMOND, Ind. (CBS) – A Vietnam veteran says he’s in a battle he never thought he’d have to fight: a battle to make a living in the city where he lives.
In the past, Richard “Rosko” Carrano has done that selling hot dogs, but as CBS 2’s Pamela Jones reports, a new ordinance is making that impossible.
People know him as “Rosko the Hot Dog Man,” but right now his cart in Hammond stands cold and empty.
“If I sell a hot dog today, I’ll be fined $2,000,” Carrano said.
That’s because the Hammond City Council changed its mobile vendor ordinances in March, adding restrictions for people like Carrano.
“With the ordinance that they just created, it is impossible to sell my product in the city of Hammond,” Carrano said.
The ordinance requires mobile vendors stay mobile, like ice cream trucks, only stopping for customers ready to buy.
The Vietnam War veteran says his stand normally packs propane tanks and steaming water – and can’t be moved that easily.
“I fought for my country and now I have to fight for my small business,” Carrano said.
City officials said part of the reason for the change to the ordinance is safety. Right now, vendors have to be 200 feet from a busy intersection so no one gets hurt.
“We had people who were selling items to moving cars and cars were pulling up and it was causing traffic issues,” said Hammond City Attorney Kristina Kantar.
So Carrano found a way to comply – sometimes moving to a vacant lot. But the city says that’s not allowed either, because some are city property and there’s potential someone could get hurt there, too.
“If he should be injured, if something should happen to him, the city could be liable,” Kantar said.
So for now, Carrano is collecting petition signatures in an effort to get the city council to ease up and let him sell what he sells best.
“It just breaks my heart. I worked on this business since 2003 and I worked real hard to get what I got,” Carrano said.
Kantar says they’re not trying to stop any single vendor from selling and the new law does not stop them from selling at festivals and carnivals.
But part of the issue is that brick and mortar businesses complain sometimes the street vendors park in front of them and undercut their prices.