York restaurant owners had a point at this week's City Council meeting.

No, not that a proposal to allow more food carts in an expanded area around downtown would hurt their businesses.

Competition, after all, is what a free market is all about.

York City currently issues one license for a food cart to operate on Continental Square, although a proposal introduced Tuesday would increase the number of licenses to six and allow them to operate several blocks beyond the square.

Over the summer, when the idea was first suggested, several restaurant owners complained food vendors would have an unfair advantage over them, since brick-and-mortar operations pay property taxes, rent, utilities and related expenses.

We pointed out at the time that vendors also lack what only restaurants can offer - climate-controlled dining rooms where patrons can sit, have their orders taken and their food delivered to their tables.

It's like comparing an apple dumpling to an orange marmalade marinated salmon.

We think the plan on the table sounds reasonable and would create in York a scene found in many other bustling downtowns.

However, while we're not necessarily buying what they're serving, we do think the restaurant owners deserve a fair opportunity to argue their case.

Yet when at least seven of them showed up at this week's meeting, they weren't allowed to address the council during the public-comment period.

Vice President Henry Nixon, who chaired the meeting, said the council's policy is to hear public comment about agenda-related items on the same evening the council plans to vote.

In that case, why have a public-comment period at all?

Those affected by the council's decisions should be able to make their cases, on the record, before members make up their minds. We'd like to think council members would actually consider that input before making a decision.

Ken Diaz -- who co-owns Tasa, a new Filipino food stand in Central Market -- was turned away from the microphone when he tried to address council members Tuesday.

"You're allowing opposition only on the day of voting?" he asked. "Doesn't make sense."

Good point.