Buffalo, NY: Common Council Looks to Revise Food Truck Rules

By  BlueDevil | Buffalo Rising


No rational person can disagree: food trucks are the best thing to happen to the Buffalo food scene in the last decade.

Whether it’s the Lloyd, the pioneer in the field, or the Roaming Buffalo or the Cheesy Chick or the Black Market Food Truck or Knight Slider or the Whole Hog or the Sweet Hearth or R&R BBQ or Amy’s Truck or Frank’s Gourmet Hot Dogs, Buffalo’s food trucks have provided Buffalonians with greater access to high-quality, local food.
Today, the Common Council will hold a public hearing at 2pm about what kind of restrictions and fees should govern food trucks. The primary issues at hand: whether the annual fee food trucks pay should be $1,000 or $500 and whether the current regulation restricting food trucks from operating within 100 feet of any open restaurant kitchen should be modified.
When food trucks first appeared on the local food scene, some local brick-and-mortar restaurants fought them. But now local restaurateur Tucker Curtin is taking that fight to an absurd degree: he’s advocating for a pile of new restrictions that would essentially kill the industry. Curtin, who owns and operates The Steer, Dug’s Dive, Lake Effect Diner and Woody’s Beach Club and Taqueria, told The Buffalo News that “I don’t really like commercial enterprises in my residential neighborhood.” Yes, Curtin lives in the city.
From the News article:

Curtin is also proposing that trucks be prohibited from parking within 25 feet of a fire hydrant, intersection or a driveway to a parking lot larger than 10 spaces. He is also suggesting a requirement that all food truck owners be licensed to operate a restaurant; that a peddler’s license be obtained for all truck employees; that trucks abide by different rules inside of all of the city’s special districts, such as those on Hertel and Elmwood (right now different rules only apply to those trucks wishing to operate downtown, where Buffalo Place has jurisdiction); and notes that the trucks can sell beverages, as the existing ordinance mentions only food.

Curtin goes even further and offers the following regulation: trucks should be prohibiting from operating within 100 feet of any private property containing commercial or residential dwellings without permission from the owners or tenants. Yep, that essentially precludes food trucks from operating anywhere in the city.
During the previous Common Council meeting on food truck regulations, Curtin was the lone business owner advocating more regulations. It’s obvious that Curtin’s proposed regulations are meant solely to strangle the life out of the burgeoning local food truck scene. And council members should be smart enough to ignore an obvious attempt by one competitor to cripple another competitor’s business with myriad, useless regulations and fees.
There is no question that food trucks have greatly improved the local food scene. If you search the mentions of the local food trucks on Twitter, you’ll be inundated with delighted customers tweeting their compliments and thanks to truck operators.
Beyond bringing good food to customers, the trucks have added to the vitality of the city. Now is not the time to take a giant step backwards and impose more regulations on the food trucks.
If you want to have your voice heard, show up at City Hall today at 2pm to share your thoughts with the Common Council.