The #BUFTruck Legislation: Tabled Again

26 Oct

Yesterday, the Common Council’s Legislation Committee met again to take up the issue of food truck legislation. Attorneys for both sides spoke, indicating that some progress had been made – some of it by the attorneys over beers – but that significant issues remain unresolved.

In some ways, this sort of legislation-by-committee of stakeholders is a textbook example of how not to push a legislative initiative. Evidently, the meetings between the food truck and brick & mortar representatives degenerated into shouting. It’s time for the common council to understand that it’s never going to satisfy everybody, and that life isn’t fair. So, it needs to craft some reasonable rules, implement them, pass it, and let the market figure out what happens.

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One of the proposals includes a sunset provision – after one year, the law expires unless the common council takes action to amend or renew it. This gives everyone an opportunity to see how the law works in practice over four seasons, and both sides seemed amenable to it.

One of yesterday’s speakers was Christina Walsh from the Institute of Justice.  The WNY Food Truck Association retained her to explain to the Council that fewer regulations are better than more, and that complicated regulations in some cities have essentially turned trucks into outlaws. She indicated that these food trucks help get feet on the streets and generate their own jobs and economic activity. Most significantly, she helped to rebut the canard that the food trucks have all the advantages over brick & mortar restaurants. Tell it to someone who (a) doesn’t know where the truck is on any given day; and (b) has to wait in inclement weather to get food they need to eat in inclement weather.

How pathetic is it that the Food Trucks had to retain the services of a freedom expert in order to fight for the right to serve tacos, burgers, coffee, and BBQ from mobile canteens?

Councilmember David Rivera indicated that the meeting yesterday had been set up to get input from additional voices, but that none of them had shown up.  The meeting was somewhat abruptly adjourned after 45 minutes.

I have some questions out to various people involved in this issue, and as I get more details I’ll relay them here. In the meantime, be sure to join the WNY Food Truck Association Facebook page, and follow your local food trucks:

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8 Responses to “The #BUFTruck Legislation: Tabled Again”

  1. Michael October 26, 2011 at 6:39 am #

    Sort of gutless for the City to want the committee to handle things. They need to lead a little and quit cowering over what votes the B&M folks may represent. Personally, it’s troubling that the B&M grouse over this “competition” and never say boo about other facilities. Perhaps if they spent all this time and money into making good quality stuff at affordable prices, people would come to them in greater numbers.

    It’s all a little ironic, considering at the recent Music is Art fair, a few trailers from Brick and Mortar facilities had no issue pulling up next to the trucks.

    Seems simple to me, if the tea party’s candidate for governor is perturbed that nobody is buying reheated pizza in lieu of walking a couple blocks for fresh tacos, maybe he should serve better pizza.

    Capitalism!

  2. Brian F. Wood October 26, 2011 at 6:52 am #

    Food trucks violate the current understanding of capitalism: Socialism for the rich; free enterprise for the poor.

    What if we made longstanding brick and mortar places compete?? Competition is anathema to modern capitalists. Pretty quick the brick and mortar guys will be asking us for subsidies to maintain “The Traditional Way of Life, a Buffalo and American Heritage!!”

  3. Brian October 26, 2011 at 7:26 am #

    If you look over the Institute of Justice’s website, you see that it is a libertarian advocacy organization.
    You would think that the mobile truck organization of all people – if they wanted a self-proclaimed “freedom expert” – would have “bought local” and gone with Jim Ostrowski.

  4. MJC October 26, 2011 at 8:27 am #

    Only in a city as financially hard-up as Buffalo would our Council members punt this issue for fear of upsetting pizza and taco shop owners. 50 years ago it was Bethlehem Steel and Trico. Today, it is Just Pizza and ETS. Truly pathetic and a signs of things to come.

    In any event, it will be a cold day in hell before I ever patronize any of the brick and mortar establishments that are leading this fight. Everyone should teach them a cold lesson – bad publicity is a lot worse for your bottom line than anything Lloyd Taco Truck could do.

  5. Jesse October 26, 2011 at 11:18 am #

    @3: Sorry, but IJ is way the hell more qualified to make any sort of libertarian argument for the freedom to do business than our own local nutjob.

  6. Mike In WNY October 26, 2011 at 1:08 pm #

    The ONLY thing unfair here is government deciding to give one class of business some level of protection from the competition of another class of business.

  7. Brian October 26, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

    @Jesse – What exactly makes the “Institute for Justice” better than Jim Ostrowski? I don’t understand what would make the “Institute for Justice” reputable and Jim Ostrowski a “nutjob”. They both prescribe to the same argument against government regulation in the marketplace. 

  8. Jesse October 28, 2011 at 9:08 am #

    @Brian – just read their arguments.  It’s kind of a no-brainer.

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