Anti Street Vending Law Officially Introduced; Opposition Growing Louder
Yesterday, as expected, the New York City council officially proposed the law that would revoke the permit of a food truck if it gets three parking tickets. As we explained on Tuesday, not only does this law unfairly punish food truck vendors- who represent a tiny percentage of the commercial trucks that park in this city- but it will effectively end vending from a food truck in this city (the food carts are not effected by the law.) Yesterday the Wall Street Journal blog interviewed Council Member Lappin (the sponsor of the proposed law) and she “disputed the notion that food trucks would be put out business by her proposal. ‘They have to abide by the rules, that’s the deal,’ she said. ‘They are supposed to be mobile.’”
Miss Lappin’s belief that this law will not put *all* food trucks out of business shows her lack of understanding of how street vending works in this town.
The laws on the books regarding where food trucks are and aren’t allowed to park are not entirely clear. Some police officers are not even sure what the actual laws are, so enforcement is not consistent. Oftentimes a food truck will be told a spot is legal by an officer on one day, only to be ticketed the next day by a different officer. They can fight these tickets in court (and the Street Vendor Project will often help) but it’s time consuming and means lost revenue because they can’t be on their truck. Can you imagine if your driver’s license was revoked after 3 parking tickets? In other words, food trucks are no different than any other vehicle. As hard as you try to follow the rules, sometimes tickets are unavoidable. And to take away a person’s livelihood for 3 parking tickets in a 12 month period is too harsh a penalty.
I understand Miss Lappin’s frustration, and she is absolutely correct in stating that commercial vehicles need to obey the letter of the law. Nobody is disputing that. But if protecting parking spaces, or punishing commercial vehicles for not obeying parking laws is the actual motivation for this law, why not expand the law to include all commercial vehicles? The answer is simple. This is not about making parking in the city better, or about getting commercial vehicles to obey the laws. It is well known that large delivery truck companies see parking tickets as an unavoidable expense, and continue to park illegally all over the city. And there are far more delivery trucks than food trucks, and some of them spend far longer parked in commercial spots than food trucks (most of which spend 3-4 hours max in any one parking space… not a “full day” as Lappin claims.) Why not go after all commercial vehicles that break the law? It’s because this isn’t about parking, or about breaking the law. It’s about food trucks- and the large brick and mortar businesses who don’t want them around.
Lappin made it clear once again that she is *not* anti-vendor, telling the New York Post this morning “she regularly buys gyros, hot dogs and ice cream from trucks”. Well, as much as she would like to believe otherwise, this law will put all food trucks out of business. If she truly isn’t anti-vendor, she’ll abandon this unfair and overly harsh law and work with the food trucks, local businesses, and consumers to come up with a system that allows food trucks to do business legally in this city, in a way that is acceptable to everybody.
There are valid arguments for why food trucks should not be allowed to park on the street and vend. And, as we know, there are a large number of people who find them to be a nuisance. If the City Council would like to have that discussion, let’s have it. But passing this law, which will make it impossible for food trucks to stay in business, under the guise of enforcing parking laws for the good of the people is completely disingenuous.
If you want to protect food trucks against this law, there are a few ways to make your voice heard. Oleg from the Schnitzel & Things Truck has set up this online petition for people to sign, and the Street Vendor Project has set up a Facebook Group asking Council Member Lappin why she is singling out the food trucks with this law.