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Buffalo Food Truck Legislation Debated

5 Jan

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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The Common Council’s Holiday Spirit

28 Dec
Occupy Buffalo

Occupy Buffalo, by Flickr user dhnieman

Each Buffalo Common Council member is allocated a certain budget to hire staffers. Some have two, others have three. North District Councilman Joe Golombek is leading a charge to limit the number to two, citing the legacy costs for a third staffer.

The Council members with three staffers are Kearns, LoCurto, and Rivera, and it’s a longstanding tradition that Councilmembers are free to staff their offices however they see fit. One council staffer tells me that the legacy costs for the three-staffer offices are negligible, since these three staffers share a pot of money in such a way that they are very poorly paid, many of whom work part-time, or are interns, never incurring any legacy costs at all. As to those who do incur legacy costs, it’s not breaking the city’s bank.

The joke of this is, as Mickey Kearns pointed out, that the city budgets for 200 – 250 vacancies every year. The incoming Fontana-led majority, (which I’m told Golombek agreed to join after being assured that he could make an issue out of this no-three-staffers issue), also plans to slash the pay of some key council staffers, and will add a $2,500 stipend to the President pro Tempore.

In other Common Council news, while the members were bickering and nickel-and-diming each other, the council punted again on proposed Food Truck legislation, sending it to the Legislative Committee, which meets next on Wednesday January 4th at 2pm.


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Photo by dhnieman.

 

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Proposed Buffalo Food Truck Law Unveiled

21 Dec

Councilman Joseph Golombek has circulated the proposed food truck law for the city of Buffalo reproduced below for review by his colleagues on the council and the food truck stakeholders and their opponents.

It is a compromise measure that incorporates the only two complaints that really came up as legitimate concerns on the part of the restaurants; firstly, it requires the trucks to have two 65 gallon trash cans set up at all times that they’re serving food. Secondly, the brick & mortar opponents win a victory in that the trucks must stay 100′ away from the property line of any existing restaurant. (The trucks wanted it to be 100′ from the front door of any such facility.) In the case of a special event, the radius is 500′.

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The trucks must physically measure the distance through the use of a measuring wheel, which can be purchased at any hardware store.

Trucks must be licensed annually by the city for a $1,000 fee, and a fine schedule for noncompliance with the regulations is set forth. The license is per truck, not per business, and the owner must undergo a background check, because I suppose one doesn’t want one’s pulled pork sandwich served by an ex-felon or something.

The one glaring omission I see here is that there may be times where the food trucks have permission from brick & mortar restaurants to set up nearby. For instance, this regulation may forbid Lloyd’s taco truck from setting up at Main & Mohawk now that there is a deli at that corner. Some restaurants may understand that competition and more people are good things. There should be a provision in the law that allows for exceptions if the truck has a brick & mortar’s consent.

In addition, the definition of “property line” is, to me, ambiguous. Is it the property line of the building in which the restaurant and its kitchen are housed, or is it the “property line” of the leased premises. For instance, are we talking about the entire Main Place Mall, or just the portions of it leased to food vendors? Are we talking about just Zetti’s on Elmwood, or the entire building in which it’s housed? This needs clarification.

Other than that, it’s a solid compromise law that ought to have been passed months ago, before food truck patrons were forced to stand in line in 20 degree weather to grab tacos and burgers. The common council must pass this law before the winter is over.

Proposed Food Truck Law//

No Quarter

14 Dec
parkingFAIL

Image by Flickr user Buffalogeek at the AV Photo Daily group

I have no idea how these guys thought they could steal this much money from city meters and get away with it, especially given the huge discrepancy between what the pay & display meters were raking in versus these jerry-rigged old-fashioned meters.

Yet something tells me this is just the tip of a very corrupt iceberg, indeed.

Bagarozzo Complaint & Affidavit//

Charles Complaint & Affidavit//

Wanamaker’s One Sunset

30 Nov

Former Buffalo economic development czar Timothy Wanamaker returned to town yesterday to be convicted by Federal Judge Arcara for charging $30,000 in personal expenses to his BERC credit card. Wanamaker left Buffalo in 2008 to fail as city manager in Inglewood, CA.

Wanamaker has yet to be sentenced, but the Buffalo News alludes to the possibility that Wanamaker’s plea deal is part of a larger, ongoing investigation into mismanagement and embezzlement of HUD funds at City Hall.

Stealing economic development money from a struggling city – it doesn’t get much lower than that. One wonders why CitiStat didn’t pick up all of it, and one wonders how cooperative and informative Mr. Wanamaker will be with federal investigators between now and his March sentencing.