The last few weeks have been an "emotional roller coaster ride" for Darren Borodin.
The single father of three has spent the past two years selling hot dogs on Continental Square in York City, a business that generates enough income to support his family and leaves enough time to put his kids on the school bus in the morning and tuck them in at night.
Borodin, 43, calls the business "an opportunity I've been blessed with."
But, in a matter of weeks, Borodin's business could disappear in the time it takes to pull a name from a hat.
In 2011, York City officials passed a law opening Continental Square to one licensed food-cart vendor. The license lasts one year. At the end of each year, the city solicits applications from anyone interested in the license.
If more than one person applies, the city chooses a winner through a lottery system.
The York City Council has been working since September on a proposal that would overhaul the law to allow more hand-operated food carts in an expanded area of the city.
Not everyone agrees that's a good idea.
But, when it comes to the lottery system, there's largely a consensus of opinion that leaving a person's livelihood to chance is unfair.
What happened: On Wednesday, council members -- reacting to passionate expressions of concern from brick-and-mortar restaurant owners -- decided they needed to return to the drawing board. They agreed to partner with Downtown Inc on creating a committee charged with studying the mobile-food issue.
The city's lone food-cart vendor, Borodin has sat through hours and hours of council meetings the past few months. He's stepped to the mic a few times, but, usually, he just listens.
Until Wednesday, Borodin said, he'd felt confident the council would change the ordinance and nix the lottery system before 2014. After all, the city hadn't advertised its annual application process yet.
When the council decided to tap the brakes on the proposal, Borodin told the members he feels misled.
There isn't enough time to amend the ordinance before the new year, Council President Carol Hill-Evans explained.
"We originally had intended to address that," she said.
Hill-Evans and several other council members offered words of apology.
On Thursday, Borodin went to City Hall in search of answers. Borodin said he filled out the same application he's submitted the two years prior.
And, now, he's waiting to find out if anyone else will apply.
What's next: The city issued a news release Thursday afternoon announcing it will accept applications beginning at 8 a.m. Monday. Applications are due by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 7.
Then, if more than one application is submitted, the city will hold a lottery at 9 a.m. the next day.
Borodin said he believes the council was sincere in its attempt to change the law before 2014.
"They were all wanting to get this done. I truly believe that in my heart," he said. "Nobody said, 'No, we want to keep this process.'"
He's also open-minded about the prospect of more food carts on York City streets in the future.
One of those future vendors could be Jennifer Philippe, who's wanted for several years to operate a crepe cart in the city. Philippe said she applied the first year but wasn't chosen.
Then, last year, she applied but withdrew her name out of compassion for Borodin.
"It didn't seem right for me to take that from him," she said. "But that also puts me in an awkward position."
Philippe said she won't apply this year for the same reason.
Borodin said he's hoping to be in business again next year. And, he said, he's grateful for the opportunity the lottery system has given him so far.
"I signed up for this. This isn't a surprise for me. I'm not a victim," Borodin said. "It's just crazy to have your future, your livelihood, how you're going to live, based on a ticket like at a carnival,"
-- Reach Erin James at firstname.lastname@example.org.