Spitzer’s Sorry, Silver’s Moving, Food Truck Drama

1. Disgraced former Governor of the State of New York, Eliot Spitzer, famously began running for New York City Comptroller just a few days before nominating petitions were due. As one might expect, Spitzer’s attempt at a comeback is made difficult by his hypocritical whoring. Here is his “apology” commercial, which I think is rather effective. 

2. Alien wizard Nate Silver took his work analyzing baseball statistics into the political arena with his blog Five Thirty Eight, and got picked up by the New York Times. That contract expired, and former Buffalo News editor Margaret Sullivan – now the Times’ Public Editor – explained that Silver simply didn’t “fit in” to the Times’ “culture”, and that some of the Times’ writers simply didn’t like him. Sullivan explained that Silver was “disruptive”; i.e., he disrupted the old model of covering politics. 

In Buffalo, we’re all-too familiar with the way politics have been covered for the past few decades, and its lazy, unsubstantive focus on fundraising and the never-ending horserace. Now, admittedly, Silver’s specialty was the horserace, but the way in which he analyzed and wrote about it was based on mathematical and scientific probability informed by trends, polling, and past performance. Silver had a knack for taking some extremely complicated and convoluted data and making it digestible for average readers, and his record is really quite striking. But in Buffalo, we have political columnists who simply dismiss and ignore candidates who do not fit the 40 year-old mold of a credible machine candidate. We’re all worse off for it. 

3. The City of Tonawanda is contemplating a food truck ordinance to regulate how these mobile entrepreneurs might be able to do business within the municipal boundaries. Unlike Buffalo and Amherst, the CoT is poised to introduce fantastically restrictive regulations – so ridiculous that they effectively amount to a ban on food trucks. $1,000 for an initial license and application, and trucks are forbidden from setting up within 1,000 feet of an open kitchen – farther than three football fields away. (The Buffalo and Amherst rules require operation at least 100′ from any open kitchen). The exercise underscores how stupid it is that all these ultimately pointless municipal entities can regulate business to this extent, and how much better it would be if the trucks could just pay a single regional fee and operate throughout the county under uniform rules. Hell, that’s how the US and EU work, but we can’t (genuinely cannot) do that within Erie County. 

Amherst Holds Ongoing Seminar on How Not to Run a Town

The Republican Party opposes regulations on businesses because, the theory goes, compliance with costly or restrictive regulations makes it more expensive to run the business, thus killing jobs. Amherst, NY is run by a Republican town supervisor and enjoys a Republican majority. It also likes to bill itself as the perfect little suburb – the place that has fixed all the ills that Buffalo has. It is the bedroom community that is attracting businesses and residents with its safe streets and good schools. 

So, why is it that the Republican town of Amherst is openly, blatantly, and illegally seeking to suppress one business sector to favor another? Why is the town of Amherst and its Republican majority expressing that its role is, in part, to “protect” brick and mortar restaurants by pushing outlandishly unreasonable restrictions on food trucks who wish to operate in the town and meet a consumer demand? 

A Buffalo News article posted Tuesday notes that the town board has reached some sort of impasse in its second attempt to draft some sort of reasonable food truck regulations.  It quotes Supervisor Weinstein thusly

“We’re pretty well divided,” said Amherst Supervisor Barry A. Weinstein. “We have three who are listening to the food truck industry, and three who feel a strong obligation to protect the neighborhoods from business encroachment”…

…But it is uncertain when – or whether – the board will agree upon a new set of regulations. Weinstein suspended discussion Monday after it was clear no consensus was in sight.

Weinstein said he now wants total agreement on the rules – six “yes” votes – as opposed to the four votes that would be needed to make the changes law.

Weinstein, meanwhile, said “special interests” have caused the process of food truck regulation to drag on.

“They’re a new industry that doesn’t want to be regulated,” Weinstein said. “We also have brick-and-mortar restaurants that need to be protected. They’ve been paying us taxes for years.”

Unanimity and consensus? Weinstein is not the dictator of a rubber-stamp legislature. He is the supervisor of a body of representative elected officials whose duty isn’t to “protect” one business sector against another, but to competently serve constituents under the law.

If the food trucks pose such an existential threat to existing brick & mortar restaurants, then perhaps the restaurants should learn to compete better in the marketplace. 

In a six-member town board, you need four votes to pass something – nothing in the charter, rules, law, or regulations is there any requirement that matters be passed with unanimity. This is sheer, manipulative silliness. 

Likewise, Weinstein’s quip about “special interests” is idiotic. The food truck association is a special interest only insofar as it is looking out for its constituent members’ ability to sell sandwiches from the side of a truck.

To my knowledge, there aren’t any brick and mortar restaurants in Amherst specializing in grilled cheese, authentic tacos, sliders,  BBQ, or burgers with peanut butter and bacon jam. If there are, they certainly have the benefit of a fixed location, seating, climate control, and bathrooms. What advantage do the trucks have over the restaurants? That they can only operate for a few hours at a time, in the elements, and people need to track them down via social media? Owning a food truck is not the financial or tactical bonanza the restaurant protections make it out to be. 

Weinstein blatantly lies when he tells the News that the trucks “don’t want to be regulated”. What have the difficulties of the past year been about, if not the food trucks agitating for reasonable regulations that aren’t punitive in the face of a town board that doesn’t seem to get it? 

Mitchell Stenger, the attorney representing the WNY Food Truck Association, said he was “shocked” to read the quotes attributed to Weinstein. On the issue of Weinstein’s unanimity demand, Stenger scoffed that it was, “unheard-of in Amherst politics.” As for Weinstein’s claim that the food trucks “don’t want to be regulated”, Stenger clarified that, “the trucks just want the regulations to be reasonable. It is completely improper for the town board to pick winners and losers,” he said.  

The proposed regulations are being drawn up by the town’s building commissioner, Thomas Ketchum. No one had a reasonable explanation as to why a 20+ year incumbent building commissioner is responsible for drafting a code having to do with mobile food trucks. While Ketchum has extensive experience dealing with the town’s brick & mortar restaurants, he has no experience with this newer business sector. Stenger adds that he had hoped that the trucks could have a hand in helping to formulate the codification, but that hasn’t happened. 

Amherst Town Councilman Mark Manna, who is pushing for reasonable food truck regulations, notes that Ketchum is tasked with drafting all new zoning regulations in consultation with the town attorney. Manna says that he is pushing for the board to find, “the most progressive law to allow the food trucks to come into town to operate.”

Manna is at a loss to explain why Weinstein is suddenly demanding unanimity, but others – speaking off-the-record for fear of reprisal – state that, for Weinstein, it’s all about winning. Weinstein had told the food trucks to not even bother showing up at the April 8th hearing, because the restrictive proposal they opposed was a “done deal”.  But the trucks did come, the proposal failed, and now Weinstein wants to exact some revenge; he wants to win. 

By insisting on unanimity, Weinstein guarantees that either the punitive restrictions he favors pass, or nothing passes

The major sticking points are quite simple problems. Evidently, some on the town board think these trucks drive around town like Mr. Softee and hand out burritos to kids who run after the taco truck. This obviously isn’t so. The trucks do all their food prep in a county-inspected commissary, and can only do certain tasks on the truck itself. For it all economically to work, the trucks need to be in a spot for at least 2 hours – preferably 3. The original Amherst proposal limited the trucks to 30 minutes in any spot in a right-of-way. 

The trucks had compromised, asking for a 2 hour maximum, but still prefer a 3 hour maximum. The 7am – 11pm curfew is also a restriction that restaurants don’t share. This has yet to be resolved. They also want the ability to operate in residential areas, but truck opponents have misapprehended or mischaracterized this.  The trucks don’t make money by setting up on a side street where there are few customers and no pedestrians. Instead, the trucks would like to have the ability to set up in and around schools during football games and the like. A residential street prohibition would eliminate that possibility. 

The building commissioner’s proposed rules for residential streets only allows operation for 20 minutes at a time, except for cases where the truck is on the front lawn of a house catering a private party. The town, amazingly, thought it was doing the trucks a favor with this 20 minute rule. However, the original proposal, which was tabled on April 8th, would have allowed trucks to operate on a residential street for the same period of time as in a differently zoned area. It read, 

§ 148-6. Hours

“Mobile food vending shall not be conducted before 9:00AM or after 8:00PM on a residential property or in a right-of-way adjacent to a residential property.”

§148-10. Permit Regulations

(F)(3). “It shall be unlawful for a Mobile Food Vendor to conduct business at a single location within a public right-of-way for a duration exceeding sixty (60) minutes unless permission is obtained by the state, county or town authority having jurisdiction for the right-of-way where the mobile food vending business will be located.”

The rejected, earlier regulations clearly would have permitted food trucks to operate on a residential street for at most an hour. The new proposal’s § 148-6, allows food truck vending on a residential property, and omits any reference to a “right-of-way” adjacent to a residential property. 

While the hours for on-property catering are extended to 11pm, there is no similar restriction for any non-truck catering on private property. They are only subject to the town’s noise ordinance. 

A new revision of town code §148-10(F)(3) reads, 

Within residential zoning districts, it shall be unlawful for a Mobile Food Vendor to conduct business within a public right-of-way except for Mobile Food Vehicles that operate for less than twenty (20) minutes at a single location. 

This effectively restricts the trucks from 60 to 20 minutes to serve burritos or burgers or banh mi at a Friday night football game.  This works for an ice cream truck, but not for a food truck. It is, in practice, a prohibition. 

Right now, only two of the six votes on the Amherst town board are remotely in favor of a progressive, non-punitive food truck law; Mark Manna and Jay Anderson. The regulations that Weinstein is proposing – with Guy Marlette, Barbara Nuchereno, and Steve Sanders in lockstep behind him – are not regulations, but barriers to keep the food trucks out. 

Amherst’s reputation for being friendly to business is at risk. The Republican town board’s reputation as small-business-minded anti-regulation types is at risk. The food trucks don’t want to come to Amherst to create a public nuisance – they want the legal ability to set up shop to meet a demand for their products. Town boards can bend to the wishes of influential restaurateurs who feel threatened by this, but only at their own peril. If a restaurant feels threatened by a mobile truck infrequently selling a limited menu on odd hours; if a restaurant can’t compete during inclement weather with people standing in line for a taco; if a restaurant doesn’t understand the natural advantage it has over a food truck simply by virtue of it predictably being in the same place every day, then the restaurant certainly doesn’t deserve the illegal protectionism being offered up by a shortsighted town board. The restaurants pay taxes? Perhaps, if they own the property. But more often than not, the lease their location and the property taxes are paid by the landlord. Likewise, the restaurant doesn’t have auto insurance and diesel fuel costs with which to contend, and the food trucks pay rent on a brick & mortar commissary, adjacent to which they must park their trucks at night. 

You’d think that a nominally business-friendly Republican town wouldn’t have such an issue understanding how regulation is supposed to work, or how competition in an open and free market is supposed to work. Frankly, I’d half-expect Weinstein and his crew on the town board to want the elimination of any restrictions on land use or restaurant operation. Instead, we have obstruction, lies, obstinate behavior, shocking admissions, antidemocratic behavior, and unduly burdensome restrictions on the operation of a burger truck or taco truck. 

So, it should be a crippling indictment of the Amherst Town Board’s ineffectiveness and failure when Pete Cimino from Lloyd’s taco truck says

“I never thought I would be saying this, but we’re more grateful for the way we worked with the Buffalo Common Council than the Amherst Town Board,” Cimino said. “Buffalo is not perfect, but it’s miles away from what we have here.”

The Republicans on the Amherst town board are restricting commerce and consumer choice by protecting one business sector and punishing another to the point of de facto prohibition.  

Ranidaphobic Clarence Man Writes Blog

Hi there. 

1. Did you know that, thanks to a petition that more than 3,000 people signed, and thanks to a big turnout and lively speakers at last night’s Amherst Town Board meeting, the town’s ridiculously restrictive proposed food truck regulation has been scrapped and the town is going back to the drawing board. It’s something of a pyrrhic victory because while Amherst’s lawmakers go back to make their sausage, the food trucks will continue to operate under the anachronistic peddling law that’s on the books now. 

While imperfect in many ways, the Buffalo food truck ordinance should be a template. Perhaps different circumstances may require certain towns to make minor tweaks, and perhaps some more business-friendly communities might introduce much smaller licensing fees, but this isn’t brain surgery. From the News’ report,

Board members said they agreed that changes were necessary but were concerned at the timetable required to make changes. Building Commissioner Thomas Ketchum said it would take at least two months to make the needed changes.

Supervisor Barry Weinstein said he doubts the matter will be resolved so quickly.

“Two months is excessively optimistic,” Weinstein said.

 Hm. And here I thought two months is excessively pessimistic.

2. Someone in Governor Cuomo’s office trial ballooned a story to the New York Post’s Fred Dicker about ousting Sheldon Silver as Assembly Speaker. In the wake of new, electoral fusion-related indictments, metaphorically cleaning up Albany has become something of a priority. Not surprisingly, Assembly Democrats wouldn’t dare go on the record to bash Silver. It would be political suicide at this point – you (again, metaphorically) throw Shelly under the bus when the bus is moving.  Dicker writes

Silver’s possible ouster comes as Cuomo — who campaigned for governor in 2010 promising to end “pay-to-play” in Albany — plans to announce broad ethics reforms.

“This is a rare moment for sweeping change,” Cuomo told his aides this weekend.

The overhaul could include a Moreland Act Commission that would put influential lobbyists under oath to testify on how the system of corruption works.

Also under consideration is a ban on the “cross endorsement” of candidates of one political party by another party.

Cuomo is also eyeing a repeal of the “Wilson-Pakula” law, which allows candidates from one party to run on another party’s ticket.

State Sen. Malcolm Smith planned to run for mayor on the GOP ticket but was busted by the feds last week for paying off Republican county chairmen in exchange for endorsements.

There you have it. Wilson-Pakula, electoral fusion, and the open market for cross-endorsements in New York are the manure that fertilizes New York State’s culture of corruption. It is a culture that keeps government bloated, dishonest, and opaque – lawmakers acting in their own best interests, rather than those of their constituents. This corrupt fusion system enables tiny political “parties” and their bosses to wield incredible power and clout. As for the “Independence Party”, it isn’t, and it should be banned simply for the confusion it creates for people who intend to register as “unenrolled” voters. Abolition of electoral fusion and cross-endorsements is the first, critical step to disinfecting Albany. 

3. Monday’s Buffalo News carried a big headline declaring that a “Clarence man with frog phobia wins $1.6 million verdict“. I saw plenty of Tweets and Facebook posts ridiculing the idea that someone could win so much money because he was afraid of frogs, or something. Upon reading the article, however, I discovered that the story was really about a Clarence man, Paul Marinaccio, whose property was rendered unmarketable because an adjacent development diverted water runoff onto it.

The issue of Mr. Marinaccio’s fear of frogs was perhaps a humorous anecdote, but had nothing whatsoever to do with the merits of the case that he won. He won because a developer and the town destroyed his land. This was quite an important result and victory in an area that all but deifies developers. The Buffalo News’ headline was misleading and turned an important issue into a joke. It also falsely left the impression that a ridiculous lawsuit with an outrageous outcome had taken place, and that the legal system is out of control and scumbag lawyers and litigious society, etc. 

Tuesday: Show Your Support for Buffalo's Food Trucks

Today at 2pm, Buffalo’s Food Trucks will be at the Common Council as the city’s legislature debates how the food truck law might be changed. The law sunsets in April and in the past 12 months, not a single complaint has been lodged from any source against any truck. 

The trucks, however, find themselves up against some intransigent lawmakers and some brick and mortar restaurants that believe they have the right to regulate and control what the trucks do and how they do it. Also on the agenda is expanding access to downtown Buffalo Place locations and freeing Canalside up to the trucks. 

If you enjoy buying food from Buffalo’s food trucks, please come and show your support. 

Because in the end, this isn’t about whether or not the law is fair for the trucks or fair for the restaurants – this is about you. This is about you telling the city, the trucks, and the brick & mortars – I like having a choice; I like the product that the trucks offer and I want more access to more trucks – not more restrictive access to fewer trucks. We’ve already lost the Cheesy Chick grilled cheese food truck due in part to the high cost of doing business across multiple municipalities in WNY. 

Buffalo charges trucks $1,000 per year, while it costs a restaurant between $175 – 325 per year to hold a take out license. The city claims that it needs to charge trucks $1,000 per year because of the administrative costs involved, yet refuses to release a breakdown of those costs. 

Ultimately, it might be time for a regionwide statute that is applicable to all municipalities in Erie County with a single fee paid. You want to encourage and help entrepreneurship in western New York? Then this should be the test case. 

But for the time being, please show your support for your favorite food trucks. They need it, and the city’s lawmakers need to understand that this isn’t only about the trucks and the restaurants – it’s about you. 

Maybe Tuesday Will Be Better, AMIRITE?

Liberty Building in Downtown Buffalo, NY

1. Jeremy Zellner vs. Frank Max. If you care about this in any way, chances are you rely on a government job, are an elected official, or you’re a candidate. The average western New Yorker is completely unaffected by it, and couldn’t care less. I happen to think that Lenihan did a great job as party chairman, and if his successor is half as successful as he, everybody should be pleased. The fact that certain people and factions held grudges over slights – real and perceived – and couldn’t suck it up and be big boys and girls and follow what the majority of the party committee wanted is par for the course. I wish Jeremy and Frank good luck and best wishes.  Everyone should just relax and concentrate on what a party committee is supposed to do – elect Democrats. 

2. “While Kathy Hochul distorts the truth, what do people who work for Chris Collins say?” That’s the actual opening line of an ad for Collins for Congress.  That bitch is such a liar, OMG. Here’s what people whose very livelihood is dependent on me have to say about me. That’s not an ad – that’s an out of control ego. Embarrassing. 

3. Coming back to the “everyone’s horrible” theme – the NFTA Surface Transportation Committee is made up of very wealthy and influential people, none of whom are likely to actually use NFTA surface transportation on any sort of regular basis. Jim Eagan – Democratic money guy who was until recently running to run ECDC, big firm lawyer Adam Perry, and restaurateur Mark Croce are all quoted in this story, all identified as committee members. Meanwhile, the people who use the LaSalle Metro station every day have dealt with a broken escalator for four months with no fix in sight. The NFTA committee members started yelling at each other like children over whether the work should be done by the regular maintenance contractor or sent out to bid. Just fix the escalator, and it’s high time the NFTA was run by people who actually use the service.  

4. The reason Mitt Romney is doing poorly? He’s exactly what the tea party, evangelicals, and very rich Republican benefactors always wanted in a candidate. 

5. Third time’s the charm. Since August, food trucks the Cheesy Chick, the Knight Slider have been chased away from the town of Amherst in the middle of service. Last year, a battle was waged to implement a law allowing and regulating food trucks to work the streets of the city of Buffalo. In reputedly business-friendly Amherst, however, no such regulation has been implemented. Yesterday, the Lloyd Taco Truck boys Tweeted this: 

That’s odd, because the truck was operating with permission on private property. The town has no food truck legislation or regulation, so no one is quite sure what Lloyd is alleged to have violated. The town’s code enforcement officers have been chasing the trucks away, and the town leadership was caught completely unaware.  

The only current regulation that could feasibly apply to food trucks is a transient vendor permit that is costly, only good for 90 days at a time, and specific to a location. If Lloyd wants to operate its north Amherst and Ridge Lea private property regular locations, it would need two licenses, each renewable every 3 months for $100

Just a few weeks ago, the Amherst town board passed a resolution to address and change the local law to specifically update the transient business permitting process to better reflect the current reality including food trucks. 

6. You aren’t a “pet parent”. Please. 

Brown Signs Food Truck Law

On Monday, Mayor Byron Brown signed Buffalo’s food truck rules into law. He waited until the last day to do so, and had he not signed it, it would have become law by default. 

The full text of the new ordinance is below. 

The law is imperfect from everyone’s point of view, but it has a built-in sunset provision, expiring in April 2013. At that time, the Common Council will review how the statute worked over the preceding 15 months and take suggestions from all sides regarding any proposed changes. 
 
The law mandates that trucks be 100′ from the exterior walls of any structure containing an open kitchen, 500′ from any special event requiring special permitting, and that the trucks pay a $1,000 annual license fee. 
 
What is different about this license from that in other cities is that there is no hidden charge – you don’t pay more for certain neighborhoods over any others (except for the CBD, which is governed by Buffalo Place). The only added charge is for parking. 
 
Furthermore, a proposal that brick & mortars were proposing would have required trucks to be limited to one truck per block face. This would have prevented events on city streets where trucks could line up in a row, due to supposed congestion issues. This was not included in the law. 
 
At some point in the near future, a Buffalo Cash Mob for the food trucks will be held at Canal Side, with ECHDC’s blessing. The date and time of that cash mob is TBD.
 
The truck owners with whom I’ve spoken are excited and relieved that this controversy is behind them, and already have potential spots scoped out. They have been waiting for this day since the middle of last year, and had been very patient. 
 
With this new statute and regulatory scheme, the food trucks are now legal, and food trucks are a fantastic way for talented people to show off the food they love – and love to make – with a much lower startup cost than a brick & mortar. Hopefully, the legalization of food trucks will lead to an even more vibrant mobile food scene in town, more innovation, and more experimentation. 
 
I’m pleased that we’ve joined the ranks of progressive, forward-looking cities that have carved out a way for food trucks to peacefully co-exist with existing restaurants, benefiting all involved. 

Buffalo Food Truck Ordinancehttp://www.scribd.com/embeds/79264224/content?start_page=1&view_mode=list&access_key=key-217roprivh7xnikj1nhh

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Photo courtesy Where’s Lloyd via Flickr.


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Buffalo's Food Trucks React

Interviews conducted Tuesday after the Common Council passed the new Buffalo food truck ordinance. It is expected to be on the Mayor’s desk on Monday, and will hopefully be signed shortly thereafter.

Buffalo’s Food Trucks React

Interviews conducted Tuesday after the Common Council passed the new Buffalo food truck ordinance. It is expected to be on the Mayor’s desk on Monday, and will hopefully be signed shortly thereafter.

Food Truck Law: It's a Go on the 24th

On Wednesday, the Buffalo Common Council took up the issue of the proposed food truck legislation (after a lengthy and heated Acropolis expansion hearing). As I reported on Wednesday, the WNY Food Truck Association has reluctantly agreed to support the bill as written, and request no changes. Although they were displeased with the radius requirement, the hefty licensure fee, and some other issues, they were willing to give it a shot for a year as written, and come back when the law sunsets to discuss ways in which it might be improved going forward.

A source close to the food truck group was present at the hearing, and learned early on that both Golombek – the bill’s sponsor – and Council President Fontana would be moving it towards a vote next Tuesday the 24th. More importantly, Fontana indicated that he would not be requesting the “one truck per block face” rule.

When Mitch Stenger, the lawyer for the food truck association, addressed the council and repeated the group’s concerns with the legislation, but that they would rather see it passed than further delayed.  After the Acropolis debate ended, Councilmember Golombek made some perfunctory remarks, and then Councilmember Mickey Kearns rose to speak.  Kearns spoke out against the high license fee, and stated that the city should be helping – not punishing – these start-up entrepreneurs.  Kearns then proposed that the bill be amended to lower the license fee to $300 per year, and then surprisingly asked that the “one truck per block face” rule be added, as well as an expansion of the 100′ radius to 175′.

Any such amendment was unacceptable to the food trucks, most importantly because any such change would further delay passage of the law by a minimum of two weeks.

Then Councilmember Rivera rose to speak favorably on behalf of the food trucks, but then proposed that the license fee be lowered to $500, and seconded Kearns’ “one truck per block face” amendment. My sources indicate that neither Kearns nor Rivera had discussed any of these changes with anyone else on the council.

At this point, Stenger rejected both Kearns’ and Rivera’s amendments, demanding that the bill be submitted to the full council as currently written.  The session was quickly adjourned after that.

Afterwards, representatives for the food trucks were assured privately by numerous councilmembers that there were enough votes to pass the bill on the 24th. The vote will take place during the session that begins at 2pm. There will not be any public comment period, but food truck supporters are encouraged to attend in a show of support. 


Food Truck Law: It’s a Go on the 24th

On Wednesday, the Buffalo Common Council took up the issue of the proposed food truck legislation (after a lengthy and heated Acropolis expansion hearing). As I reported on Wednesday, the WNY Food Truck Association has reluctantly agreed to support the bill as written, and request no changes. Although they were displeased with the radius requirement, the hefty licensure fee, and some other issues, they were willing to give it a shot for a year as written, and come back when the law sunsets to discuss ways in which it might be improved going forward.

A source close to the food truck group was present at the hearing, and learned early on that both Golombek – the bill’s sponsor – and Council President Fontana would be moving it towards a vote next Tuesday the 24th. More importantly, Fontana indicated that he would not be requesting the “one truck per block face” rule.

When Mitch Stenger, the lawyer for the food truck association, addressed the council and repeated the group’s concerns with the legislation, but that they would rather see it passed than further delayed.  After the Acropolis debate ended, Councilmember Golombek made some perfunctory remarks, and then Councilmember Mickey Kearns rose to speak.  Kearns spoke out against the high license fee, and stated that the city should be helping – not punishing – these start-up entrepreneurs.  Kearns then proposed that the bill be amended to lower the license fee to $300 per year, and then surprisingly asked that the “one truck per block face” rule be added, as well as an expansion of the 100′ radius to 175′.

Any such amendment was unacceptable to the food trucks, most importantly because any such change would further delay passage of the law by a minimum of two weeks.

Then Councilmember Rivera rose to speak favorably on behalf of the food trucks, but then proposed that the license fee be lowered to $500, and seconded Kearns’ “one truck per block face” amendment. My sources indicate that neither Kearns nor Rivera had discussed any of these changes with anyone else on the council.

At this point, Stenger rejected both Kearns’ and Rivera’s amendments, demanding that the bill be submitted to the full council as currently written.  The session was quickly adjourned after that.

Afterwards, representatives for the food trucks were assured privately by numerous councilmembers that there were enough votes to pass the bill on the 24th. The vote will take place during the session that begins at 2pm. There will not be any public comment period, but food truck supporters are encouraged to attend in a show of support. 


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