Proposed City Council Bill Would Designate Up To 450 Food Truck Parking Spots

Big D’s Grub Truck getting a ticket (credit: NYSF)

As first reported in the Daily News (thanks for the tip Adam), City Councilman Dan Garodnick has proposed a bill that would allow for up to 450 designated Food Truck Parking Spots around the city.

It would also bar more than 1 food truck from operating on the same block at the same time.

There are pros and cons to this proposal. We would like to hear your thoughts on the proposed bill. Here are ours:

Pros

  • Regulations is preferable to the current whack-a-mole situation of the police chasing food trucks away whenever they get a complaint.
  • Food trucks would not get expensive tickets (or towed) on a regular basis. It’s tough to build a business that way.
  • With no more than 1 truck allowed per block, it should be easier to get the restaurant lobby to agree to this proposal.
  • There is currently a one-time fee proposed when trucks register for the designated Food Truck Parking Spots. There would not be recurring fees…or tickets.

Cons

  • One of the best things about food trucks is having a different one near your office every day. They’re called “mobile” food vendors for a reason. Making them stick to one spot kind of defeats the purpose. Having the same food truck near your office every day is not good for the neighborhood or the vendor. It might work for Uncle Gussy’s, but will not work in lower density areas.
  • Having the Dept of Transportation come up with the designated Food Truck Parking Spots is a recipe for disaster. They should work in conjunction with the NYC Food Truck Association to come up with the spots and a workable rotation plan.
  • There has to be some type of distinction between the different types of trucks. A Mister Softee truck (or even worse, Captain Softee) should not be treated the same way as the Cinnamon Snail. Even among dessert trucks, there is a huge difference between Mister Softee and Coolhaus. Perhaps designating A and B level trucks is one way of doing it. Restaurants have a lot less to fear from the B level food trucks than the A level food trucks. (We would be happy to consult with the DOT to help them make this distinction).

What are your thoughts on the proposed City Council bill?

Before you answer, remember this is what we’re fighting about.

(credit: NYSF)
(credit: NYSF)

9 COMMENTS

  1. What horrible, overreaching, worthless legislation, as usual coming from the NY City Council. If mayor doomberg would call on his police to stop molesting the food trucks for no reason, we would all be much better off. I work in midtown and one of the greatest things is having different food trucks come into range during the week. Sure some trucks like uncle gussys operate out of the same spot, which is good for people who work near that spot, but there are far more people in NYC that will never get to even try them. The whole problem is the restaurant lobby and especially the elected officials that want their cut from them. I frequent food trucks, but I also frequent plenty of brick and mortar establishments. If the restaurants in the area gave me more of what I wanted at a fair price, then maybe I would go to restaurants more. Go to Cosi and try their new “bowls.” They are half the size of what you can get on a truck and double the price. No thank you. I’ll take Mexicue, Uncle Gussy’s, Korilla, The Miami Food Machine, Frites and Meats and Feed Your Hole (are you coming back?) any day!

  2. Thanks Robert. You put your finger on why we love food trucks so much.

    Sean from Feed Your Hole is involved with some sort of combination restaurant/sneaker store in Westchester that’s doing pretty well from what we hear. Not sure if they are coming back, but we’ll try to find out.

  3. The thing is even if you spread the food trucks to one per block, the people are going to eat where they want to eat. If a particular food truck is good enough to gain a following, then the some people in the area will eat there regardless of the restaurants in the area.

    There are some great restaurants I eat at on regular basis, too. 41st street has what is left of the Asian quartet – Sunrise Mart, Mai and Cafe Zayia. Cafe Hestia is a great deli on 3rd and Naya Express Lebanese right next to it. Boi, also on 3rd, has great but expensive banh mis and bowls that are not to be missed. Previti Pizza on 41st and Lex has top notch slices and pies. The food trucks aren’t taking away any business IMO. They are just supplementing what is already here.

    The mayor wasn’t complaining when he used the food trucks to feed hurricane Sandy victims.

    Not to change the subject, but Feed Your Hole had THE best burgers I ever tasted. Sean’s meat mixture was the best. The Nut Burger was a work of food art – it was simple in theory, but his execution was perfect!

  4. And hey, I ripped on Cosi earlier, but there were times when I ate there three times a week when they had a great special like when they did their Cuban a few years ago. It was really good!

  5. Ban the cars. Free the trucks. But that’s just me…

    Seriously though, vendors are providing a service and doing it via the entrepeneurial model our culture claims to support. There is quite clearly consumer interest for the good vendors and I’ve seen how quickly the “meh” and bad trucks and carts dissappear. Personally, this is one of the ways I want to see our streets used and AI don’t think I’m alone.

    Like my similarly named fellow traveler above, I fail to understand what problem the city council is trying to address in the first place and this regulation seems likes it designed to ruin everything good about the truck model and push it into failure,

  6. To what degree is this about the perceived right of storefronts to be safe from competition? Is that the city council’s rationale for this legislation? Is there a restaurant group behind this?

    I’ve taken my lumps for growing up in an (arguably) “free market society.” Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be guaranteed a job, housing,, health care, etc., the way some of my European acquaintances tell me they do. But given the context, I think it’s a lot for a NYC restaurant owner to argue they have a right to limit my choices. I eat at restaurants more than I eat at carts and am known as a loyal regular at many. If I learned one of my restauranters was involved in banning street vendors, I’d be out the door never to return.

  7. The storefronts are represented by the restaurant lobby. The restaurants do pay rent and are regulated and taxed heavily by the city. The food trucks do not have to deal with a lot of that, although I think they have permits and license fees and steep tickets. I think NYC is large enough with a huge population of potential customers that both trucks and storefronts can coexist. I think the restaurants are pissed becuase of the drop in business caused by the slow economy with more and more people bagging lunches to save money. The city council/mayor should stop meddling and be happy that some people are trying to make a living working hard providing us with food.

  8. Thanks for the thoughtful comment. We have been tempted to up and move to Scandinavia at times, but it’s tough to imagine living anywhere else.

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