New York City is cracking down on where food trucks can park, the New York Times reported yesterday.
The police “have told us they no longer want food trucks in Midtown,” said Kim Ima, the owner of the Treats Truck, a pioneer of the city’s new-wave food-truck movement, who began cultivating customers on West 45th Street in 2007.
Also ejected from their customary Midtown locations recently were the Comme Ci, Comme Ça Truck at 38th Street and Broadway; the Desi Truck at West 50th Street between Seventh Avenue and Avenue of the Americas; the Eddie’s Pizza Truck, the Kimchi Taco Truck and the Wafels & Dinges Truck, all at West 52nd Street and the Avenue of the Americas; the Crisp on Wheels truck at West 51st Street and Seventh Avenue. Members of the ragtag fleet of generic soft ice cream trucks in the area have been cast out, too.
Few if any of these trucks have been ticketed, and few towed. Nevertheless, some vendors who tried to return have been shooed away again. Many, including the Treats Truck, consider themselves permanently displaced and are trying to find other locations. In some cases, they have been turned out of their new neighborhoods, too.
The new sweep will affect not just Midtown but all five boroughs. “We are enforcing the law as it has been interpreted by the court,” said Paul J. Browne, the New York Police Department’s chief spokesman.
The court case Browne is referring here to is
a May 24 ruling by Judge Geoffrey D. Wright in New York State Supreme Court. The decision reinforced a city Transportation Department regulation, believed to date from the 1950s, stating that no “vendor, hawker or huckster shall park a vehicle at a metered parking space” to offer “merchandise for sale from the vehicle.”
In a follow-up post today, Times writer Glenn Collins notes
In a ruling, Judge Wright said he was sympathetic to one food truck operator’s wish to sell offerings from metered parking spots. But he said that not only did it break the law but also that the courts “are ultimately not the appropriate forum,” he wrote, adding: “the City Council is.”
The City Council is also the main obstacle to the issuance of new permits for food trucks in New York City, an issue I wrote about in the April print edition of Reason.
“The number of permits is capped under the city’s administrative code,” [Zoe Tobin, associate press secretary with the city health department,] explains. “The city council would have to change the administrative code in order for there to be more permits available.” Unless city legislators act, the city’s vendor permit ceiling will stay capped at 3,100 renewable two-year permits and 1,000 seasonal permits.
Reason alum Michael Moynihan also opined on the regulatory miasma affecting NYC food trucks (and quoted yours truly) recently in the Wall Street Journal.
The news isn't all doom and gloom, though. New York City recently allowed a food truck to begin serving booze.
Baylen Linnekin is a lawyer and the executive director of Keep Food Legal, a nonprofit that promotes culinary freedom, the idea that people should be free to make and consume whatever commestibles they prefer. For more information and to join or donate, go here now.