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. 

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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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. 


Buffalo Food Truck Legislation Debated

A hearing of the Buffalo Common Council’s Legislative Committee was held yesterday on the issue of a proposed statute legalizing food trucks within the city. You can read the proposed legislation and sign a petition here.

Truck advocates are generally pleased with the proposed law, but questioned the need to carry around two 65-gallon garbage cans in their trucks, and sought clarity on the definition of “property line” as set forth in the proposed law. An added issue I have with the law is that it should be easy for kitchens to waive the 100′ ban in an informal way, if mutually agreed-to.

It is expected that the final legislation will be passed before the end of this month. This will clarify, legalize, and regulate the food trucks’ operations for the 2012 warm weather season.

Courtesy of the Buffalo News’ Aaron Besecker, you can watch video of some of the presentations made at yesterday’s hearing, and pay close attention to Zetti’s Pizza’s John Fusco, who has a request for people who would vilify him on the internet. (For what it’s worth, I like Zetti’s, and I like John, but I think he’s wrong on this issue.)  Unfortunately, the Buffalo News does not permit embedding of videos.


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Support Buffalo’s Food Trucks

The Western New York Food Truck Association, which is the unified voice of Buffalo’s food trucks, is still waiting for the City of Buffalo to draft, debate, vote on, and pass legislation that will legalize and regulate their business and movement within city limits. Buffalo Place, the organization that is in charge of regulating business activity in the downtown core, has already gone on record as pledging to follow whatever rules city government puts in place.

Legislation that was under consideration this past summer was tabled, and although the city was urged to resolve these issues before the weather turned lousy, it is now mid-December and the trucks are still waiting for a clear and concise set of rules under which to do business in the city.  The WNY Food Truck Association, in conjunctino with the Institute for Justice, have produced this video to explain what they want, and what’s at stake.

Please contact the Common Council and let them know that legislation should be passed to legalize and regulate these food trucks in Buffalo as soon as possible. Better still, you can sign this petition, which will result in an email being sent to the Mayor and each Common Council member.

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Support Buffalo's Food Trucks

The Western New York Food Truck Association, which is the unified voice of Buffalo’s food trucks, is still waiting for the City of Buffalo to draft, debate, vote on, and pass legislation that will legalize and regulate their business and movement within city limits. Buffalo Place, the organization that is in charge of regulating business activity in the downtown core, has already gone on record as pledging to follow whatever rules city government puts in place.

Legislation that was under consideration this past summer was tabled, and although the city was urged to resolve these issues before the weather turned lousy, it is now mid-December and the trucks are still waiting for a clear and concise set of rules under which to do business in the city.  The WNY Food Truck Association, in conjunctino with the Institute for Justice, have produced this video to explain what they want, and what’s at stake.

Please contact the Common Council and let them know that legislation should be passed to legalize and regulate these food trucks in Buffalo as soon as possible. Better still, you can sign this petition, which will result in an email being sent to the Mayor and each Common Council member.