Anti-Food Truck Council Member Lappin Says It’s Ok to Break Parking Laws if Nobody Complains

You are so right. FOOD TRUCKS are the real problem…

The backlash against City Council Member Jessica Lappin’s new food truck law generated a lot of press yesterday, but sadly it doesn’t seem to be deterring her (in fact, she seems to be relishing it.)  Lappin represents a district on the Upper East Side, and according to DNA Info she was moved to propose the law by a Halal Truck that parks on 86th Street and Lexington from 10am to 11pm. She also complained about a “dumpling truck” (Rickshaw parks on the UES on Fridays for a few hours in the afternoon) and a taco truck.  The sad thing is, most popular trucks in the city don’t park in the same spot for 13 hours straight- but Lappin’s law punishes everybody, by revoking the license of any truck that gets 3 parking tickets in a year.

But what bothered us the most yesterday was her comments to CBS TV.  When confronted with the facts that food trucks represent an incredibly small portion of the commercial vehicles who park illegally every day, and asked why she doesn’t go after FedEX and Fresh Direct as well her response was “simple – she says no one is complaining about those other companies.”

Actually, that’s about as untrue and misinformed as her telling the press that this law will not put food trucks out of business.  I wrote her a later to address these issues, hoping for a response.

Dear Jessica,

I saw the form letter you have been sending to people that email you about this new food truck law, and had just a few follow up questions for you if you have some time. I’ll be glad to post your response on the site, unedited.

I know you told CBS that nobody has complained about other trucks, but that is not the case. There have been numerous complaints against Fresh Direct’s fleet of trucks over the years, and they weren’t put out of business by some knee jerk new law. They got a meeting with Andrew Cuomo and worked out a deal to help make their business acceptable to the Government. Ironically enough, the complaints from voters weren’t even about idling… they were about the noisy refrigerators. And Fresh Direct trucks continue to “break the law” (as you say), and get parking tickets. (And I’m sure plenty of people still complain.) They pay those tickets, ($2 million a year, apparently) and continue to do business. As does FedEx, and UPS and countless other businesses.

I’m also curious how many complaints you received about this issue, and who they were from? And what is the criteria for bringing a local law based on complaints? Do the complaints have to outnumber those who are in favor of something? Or can a few complaints (and the personal feelings of one council member) be enough to enact harsher penalties on one group of law breakers, but not another?

Also, I wanted to know if you are you aware that it is practically impossible to operate a profitable food truck business while following every single parking law on the book? (Mostly because nobody knows exactly what all the laws mean, and who they effect.) It’s kind of a dirty little secret of street vending that most people aren’t aware of. In fact, some vendors have been told by police officers that it is illegal to vend from *any* metered spot for any amount of time. (And have received tickets for it.) But food trucks have been allowed to operate anyway, for the most part, because as you say- they are a very popular part of our city’s food landscape. And, in the end, nobody knows (including the police officers) what every single law is that governs food truck and food cart parking. So different officers enforce different rules on different days. It’s a complete mess, and street vending is an incredibly difficult business because of it. I know you say that food trucks can continue to operate as long as they follow the law, and this new law won’t result in food trucks being put out of business. But I can tell you, as somebody who has been covering this industry for a very long time, it will. 3 tickets in 12 months is just too low a ceiling, not just for food trucks but for *any* vehicle that operates and/or parks in Manhattan on a daily basis- whether it’s commercial or a passenger car.

In the end, knowing all this… do you think it’s fair to punish every food truck in the city, because of a few trucks that spend all day in their spots? Because most of the trucks this law will put out of business, don’t spend all day in the same spot. They move around, they try to follow the law (as they know it), but in the end it’s impossible for any truck to avoid 3 tickets in a 12 month period.

We’re not saying you’re wrong, we’re just trying to make it clear to the City Council that this law will put food trucks out of business. If that’s the goal, than fine. Let’s have a rational debate over whether or not food trucks should be a allowed to operate in New York City, and whether or not the current laws are set up to allow them to do that. If that’s not your goal, and you are not “anti-vendor” as you say, we have to ask you to reconsider pursuing these harsher penalties, and instead work with the vendors to come up with clear and concise regulations that everybody can support. If that includes not parking at a residential meter on
the UWS for longer than 1 or 2 hours, so be it. But please stop pretending that food trucks will be able to operate “legally” after this law passes. The Halal Truck on 86th and Lex might stop parking up there 12 hours a day, but the trucks in Midtown (which are enormously popular, and only park in their spots 3-4 hours at a time) will find it impossible to avoid 3 tickets in a one year period- no matter where they park, and perfectly they follow the vague and inconsistently enforced laws.

(Oh, and as a side note, the whole move around and twitter your location thing? That doesn’t work nearly as well as the media makes you think.)

Hopefully she’ll find time to respond.

Anti Street Vending Law Officially Introduced; Opposition Growing Louder
New York City Council to Introduce First Anti-Food Truck Law
Food Truck Owners React to New Proposed Law
Prediction: New Carts & Trucks Are About to See Some Serious Backlash


  • are we still allowed to call her names unfit for Disney movies? i’m all for the dialogical process but she doesn’t seem to listen very well. perhaps some UES doctor can help clear the ear wax build-up. Or maybe she had a bad experience with street food and now a ring worm is taking control of her brain, thus the reduced cognitive abilities and reasoning power.

    What we should be doing is holding a vigil for this poor woman. Her inexplicable ability to be this asinine in the face of pragmatism is truly astounding. And now, I shall go find some street food.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    Of course she’s relishing the attention. Who had ever even heard of her before this ridiculous proposal? This is way less about her constituents and way more about Lappin’s press and notoriety.

    • Agree 100% with this comment. Whoever heard of Sarah Palin before August 2008, now she’s in Hollywood at some Time Magazine party on the red carpet with Judd Apatow and Leslie Mann?

      This controversy is best thing that ever to her political career.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    This woman makes my blood boil.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I sent her an email and this is what she had to say

    “Mr. Gonzalez,
    Thank you for your email in opposition to Introduction 272, a bill which would change the city enforces feeding the meter and idling regulations on mobile food vendors.

    Food vending trucks are part of our city’s food landscape. I hope that they will remain that way. But they are not exempt from the laws that are already on our books. My bill does not ban food trucks, but changes the way we enforce two key illegal acts: 1) idling for more than 3 minutes, which pollutes our air; and 2) feeding parking meters.

    Food trucks have a license to operate as a mobile business. That means, by definition, they are required to be mobile. That’s what they agreed to when they got the permit in the first place. There are trucks that now take a parking spot and use it to vend all day long. They take the same space every day for hours on end. That isn’t legal and it isn’t right.

    The city streets belong to the public, not to any one business owner. Food trucks can park somewhere for an hour or two, depending on the regulations, and still sell their wares. They can use twitter and blogs to communicate with their customers. But they are not allowed to take over a parking spot forever for their own use.

    Unfortunately, some mobile vendors are doing just that and view tickets as a cost of doing business. My bill seeks to change that.

    I’m sorry we could not agree on this issue. Please feel free to contact me should you have additional questions or concerns.


    Jessica Lappin

    Office of Council Member Jessica Lappin
    330 East 63rd Street, Suite 1K
    New York, NY 10065
    Phone: 212-980-1808
    Fax: 212-980-1828

  • uhhh WB MASON? STAPLES? MR SOFTEE IS THE WORST! (I know thats food tho :( ) I just hate walking past their exhaust all the time. And who is this moron! I hate that in this “DIPLOMATIC” Society some angsty little crunt can get her way by just whining to the right people, and suckin the right dongs. “Of course she’s relishing the attention. Who had ever even heard of her before this ridiculous proposal? This is way less about her constituents and way more about Lappin’s press and notoriety.” – Well said JILL!

  • Clearly she’s a person who is out of touch with the reality of the situation and her constituents. What prompted this? How many complaints? And if she did a thorough job as a Council Council Member, what research endeavors did she take to ensure that this bill represents the correct course of action? She has to understand that she’s messing with people’s lives, not just some people’s lunches. And it seems from her explanations and her reasoning that she’s solely basing this off of small and outlying circumstances. The food trucks are a result of the recession that has hit New York particularly hard. From their conception they have developed an increasingly more popular and interesting part of New York culture. Her lack of preparation and capriciousness in this matter places doubts in ANY of her issues. How serious does she take her job really?

  • This is some privileged spoiled kid seeking her 15 min. She’s barely 35 if that… No credibility at all in my book.

    • Well, she’s certainly starting her career off by looking like a completely wacky ass who’s more concerned about the spotlight and pushing people around. Unfortunately, because of those traits, she will be much less likely to actually back down from this. I’d say find her during her interviews and throw street meat at her skinny ass.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    She’s 29. And she really reminds me of the insanely ambitious Reese Witherspoon character in the movie Election.

    How many of her beloved constituents are “1) idling for more than 3 minutes, which pollutes our air; and 2) feeding parking meters”.

    If she’s going to start revoking licenses of food trucks after three tickets, is she going to start revoking licenses of regular drivers that do both of these things? How is it possibly fair is she’s not doing this across the board?

    And, to her point that food trucks “are not exempt from the laws that are already on our books.” Well, of course they’re not exempt, you foolish lady. That’s why they are paying the fines. They are going about their business legally.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    For me, this still begs the question – why are the food trucks getting more than 3 tickets for these violations?
    They shouldn’t ever be getting cited for these specific violations.

  • @ Chris: B/c the meter maids are F’ing a-holes….that’s why.

    • User has not uploaded an avatar

      This doesn’t make sense. If the vendors are following the parking rules, they shouldn’t be getting the tickets.

      1. parking in a meter space for more than
      one time period lawfully permitted in that parking meter zone or depositing any additional money to extend that time

      If you get a ticket for this, you have a parking receipt to verify you were parking legally.

      2. parking when parking is prohibited

      Shouldn’t be parking here

      3. idling for more than 3 minutes

      From experience, I know cops to ask you to leave first if you’ve been idling where you shouldn’t. If you don’t leave, you deserve the ticket.

      • *Sigh* Chris… how quickly you forget about your days running a food truck!

        The argument is not about whether or not trucks should or shouldn’t get parking tickets. Or even whether or not they should or shouldn’t be forced the follow the laws.

        It’s about whether or not it is fair to single food trucks out to have their permits revoked because of parking tickets… while other commercial vehicles are allowed to rack up of tons of parking tickets, and continue to do business.

        You know it would be impossible to operate a food truck without getting 3 tickets in a 12 month period… no matter how hard you tried to follow the rules.

  • I just watched a USPS truck park blocking an intersection walkway. In front of about 15 people trying to cross the street. Are we going to ban the Federal Gov’t. from Manhattan?

    Actually, now that I think about it, that’s a pretty good idea…

  • User has not uploaded an avatar

    I am emailing her to complain about every other business. If she’s going to target vendors, and the reason she doesn’t include companies like McDonalds, UPS, FedEx, etc.. is because no one complains, we should complain about all of them. I promise you if she mentions any of those other companies in her bill, there’s no way it survives.

  • User has not uploaded an avatar


    Yes, in my comment on yesterday’s post I mention I am against this rule because it could apply to all commercial vehicles.

    My point, however, is about the specific violations she points to in the bill. No food vendor should be getting cited for those violations. I know for a fact, when I was in the biz, we never were cited for those violations. Everyone is making it seem like its any 3 parking tickets will get your permit revoked. No, it’s only the specific violations in the bill.

    Frankly, if I were still in the biz, I’d be angry about targeting food truck vendors specifically, but I wouldn’t be worried about losing my permit.

  • I don’t f**ing understand you
    You always tell me to think for myself
    But when I disagree with what you say
    You turn around and put me down
    I don’t know why you have to play These high and mighty power trip games

    Your double standards are pissing me off
    You’ve got a set of rules for you and another for us
    You’re no better, you’re no worse
    But it’s time you stop acting like a f***ing jerk

    I really wish you would quit
    ‘Cause we know you’re full of shit

    (c) Pete’s Sake -Sick of it All

  • The crux of the problem is that politicians have the power to do favors for votes/money. If Missy Jessica didn’t have the political pull that she has, brick and mortar businesses wouldn’t be able to do behind the scenes wheeling and dealing to screw the little guys.

    Big government is too intertwined with business in the world and America. What we’re seeing with food truck vendors being singles out, is a small scale of what happens all the time when big corporations get politicians to do their bidding for campaign contributions and votes.

    Jessica has no other motivation to single out the trucks. She says no one else is complaining about other trucks…then WHO is complaining about the food trucks? They want to take it to the lives of the food truck vendors, then bring it to court and fight it out!

    I feel that if a bill can be brought forth to create a law because someone complains, those complains of those particular people ought to be public!

Leave a Reply

You must log in or register to post a comment.