Food Truck Owners React to New Proposed Law
Yesterday the news broke that two New York City Council members were preparing to introduce a law that would revoke the permits of any food truck that received 3 parking tickets within a 12 month period. We claimed that the law would effectively put every food truck out of business… and for anybody who thought that may have been hyperbole, it’s worth taking a look at the reactions of food trucks around the city. The twittering food trucks in particular have started to mobilize their fans in an effort to block this law. Oleg from the Schnitzel & Things truck sent this to me last night:
Schnitzel & things is devastated by the news that this councilwoman would introduce such an unfair bill. We as vendors are constantly being marginalized and this is just another attempt at further clamping down on the food truck industry. We bring a diversity and a sense of fun that the city should embrace rather than push us further and further away. If this bill passes, it will mean the end of food trucks in new York. It will mean countless families that depend on this business will now have to be out of a job.
More reactions from vendors are after the jump.
According to Profiled Lunch’er Chrissy (aka Miss Softee) here is how this bill will hurt workers like her, who don’t own their own trucks:
“Take an ice cream truck, for instance, that has a worker that uses it 4 days a week. Do you think that the truck sits idle the other three days a week? No. It goes to work with another driver. Now, in those three days, that driver may do some really ridiculous stuff and may rack up a ton of parking tickets. Once the truck leaves the depot, there’s no way to control what a worker does with it. These tickets go against the truck and not the driver, and many drivers will just disregard these tickets, throwing them away or not handing them into the ice cream company in a reasonable amount of time. The second driver quits (a lot of vendors are just temporary worker anyways) and now the first driver, who wasn’t even there when this happened, [loses his or her job]. So, while this seems like it’s going to punish those that are abusing the streets of Manhattan, it’s going to punish ALL vendors, even the unsuspecting.”
And what about lost revenue? From the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck:
“I hope that the city considers all of the income they’ll forfeit when their various agencies are no longer able to ticket us ad libitum; that $200 I paid when I failed to produce a particular thermometer fast enough probably bought the Environmental Control Board a roll of masking tape. What utter ding-dongery. “
And Vadim from Frites and Meats brings it home:
“When one thinks of potential negatives associated with food truck vending, i don’t know, parking just doesn’t seem to be at the top end of that list. Idling doesn’t really seem to be that high up either. I would think that the 100 or so food trucks currently operating in NYC (potentially very generous estimate), would not be taking up that many parking spaces or creating that much of a carbon footprint that idling and parking would be the cause taken up by our illustrious elected officials. Things like Health Dept violations would be far more of a real issue. One whose fair and consistent enforcement would be welcome by all good food truck vendors and all good food vendors in general. The current food truck movement is led by people who are not fly by night operators. We are corporate executives, food industry professionals, lawyers, doctors and other highly educated professionals. We are raising the standards of food served on the street. We, all professionals in our past lives, understand that we have to bring quality to be perceived as quality. We care a great deal about health dept regulations and keep our trucks at a high level of cleanliness. Not to meet the Health Dept regulations but because we care and because our customers expect that from us. Our customers expect no less from us than they would from a brick and mortar restaurant.
But let me tell you a little food truck parking story. And it seems somewhat beyond coincidental that it occurred today. We were parked in our usual Tuesday spot. While getting ready to open, a plain-clothed policeman walked up to the rear of our truck and said “Hey Guys”. Turned out he was from the NYPD Anti-Terrorist Intelligence department. He had a form that specifically was created for capturing food truck vendor information ( I don’t remember the exact title of the form). He told us that since food trucks moved around every day, we had an opportunity to see a lot of things, a lot of people. He gave me one of those “IF YOU SUSPECT TERRORISM, CALL THE NYPD” forms and asked if we would consider laminating it and posting it on our truck (we will do this). So on a day that the NYPD Anti-Terrorism Intelligence Dept finds a strategic and tactical use for food truck vendors in its fight against terrorism in NYC, a couple of our forward-thinking legislators are looking to shut us down.
Street food is a part of NYC culture. It always has been. From the legendary dirty water dogs, to the current high end, higher quality truck vendors. NYC has always been at the forefront in spreading and creating positive influence across America. NYC is where street food was born. Will it now become the place where street food died? I don’t think so.
We will be collecting signatures at our truck and handing out copies of the Midtown Lunch post to our customers, educating them to this atrocious use of legislative time, and what they can do about it.
We must not let this become law. We must find a way to work with the City on creating a cooperative and productive environment between the NYC govt and the food truck vendors. We must work with the City to make it realize that the promotion of food trucks is something that is worthwhile and positive. “
Once again, it is worth stating that despite some of the rhetoric the main argument against this law has nothing to do with whether or not parking laws are fair or unfair, or whether food trucks should be allowed to “break the law” by parking illegally. There isn’t a single food truck is this city who gets less than 3 tickets a year… even the ones who attempt to follow every oarking law to a T. We simply are asking the City Council to understand the gravity of passing this law, because doing so would shut down every single food truck in the city. If that is their goal, so be it. But let’s be honest about it, and have that discussion publicly. Don’t pretend this is about freeing up parking spaces for your constituents… because there are far worse parking offenders in New York than food trucks.
Oleg from the Schnitzel and Things truck is circulating petitions to food trucks around the city as we speak, and urges fans to visit their favorite trucks to sign the petition. As of right now the petitions are available at Schnitzel & Things, Frites & Meats, NYC Cravings, Wafels and Dinges, The Cupcake Stop trucks, and Street Sweets. You can check the ML Twitter Tracker for locations.
UPDATE: They have also set up an online petition which can be found here.