Buffalo, NY: Revised Food Truck Rules Unveiled

North Buffalo Common Councilman Joseph Golombek, Jr.

By Nicki Mayo | BuffaloNews.com

North Buffalo Common Councilman Joseph Golombek, Jr.

A revised set of proposed rules for food trucks in the City of Buffalo has been unveiled with no change to the proposed $1,000 annual license fee.

Council President Richard A. Fontana, Niagara Council Member David A. Rivera and South Council Member Michael P. Kearns each said this week they’d like to see a lower proposed fee.

However, North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr., the bill’s sponsor, said even though those three lawmakers have talked to him about it, he believes the proposal of $1,000 is fair.

“If you can afford $80,000 for a truck, I don’t think a $1,000 fee is too excessive,” Golombek said Wednesday.

Rivera said he initially took the position of favoring a lower fee because he wanted the city’s fee to be more in line with the fees in other cities roughly the size of Buffalo, but there have been compromises as the law has developed and he will not push for a lower fee.

“If food trucks are willing to live with it, that’s fine,” Rivera said Wednesday.

When asked whether the group was willing to accept the size of the fee, Mitchell M. Stenger, attorney for the Western New York Food Truck Association, said he was in the midst of canvassing the group’s members.

As The Buffalo News reported last week, changes already were planned to the draft regulations. The amendments that have been proposed — all of which were suggested by the food truck owners group — are:

** Distance — Food trucks must stay at least 100 feet from “the nearest edge of any building or section of a building comprising a licensed food establishment, excluding any patio, awning or temporary enclosure attached thereto, …” where there is an open kitchen.

The previous version of the proposed rules called for a 100-foot buffer between a food truck and the property line of a restaurant with an open kitchen, but some questioned the likely difficulty in determining where the precise property boundaries are.

** Garbage cans — Removing a requirement for two, 65-gallon garbage cans and replacing it with the mandate that food trucks “must be equipped with trash receptacles of a sufficient capacity that shall be changed as necessary to prevent overflow or the creation of litter or debris.”

** Hearing — Under the new rules, food trucks would be able to keep operating — even after they are cited for a third violation — until an administrative hearing is held and a ruling is made.

Under the old rules, a food truck would not be allowed to operate anywhere in the city once ticketed for the third time. In that case, the food truck would have had to wait until the hearing was held and a determination was made before getting back on the streets.

Police or the Department of Permits and Inspections still would be able to force a food truck to stop operating at a particular location if a blatant violation is found, Golombek said.

Under the law, a hearing still would be required within 60 days.

Golombek said he would have preferred a smaller time frame for the hearing, but he has been told by City License Director Patrick Sole Jr. that a hearing could not be guaranteed within less than 60 days.

Golombek said that while the existing food truck operators generally have been “pretty good” at following the rules, he wants rules in place in case the next round of operators aren’t as compliant.