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Buffalo Food Truck Legislation Debated

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.




  • Fusco’s argument is ridiculous in itself. Public streets connect to his private business, which is ok with him. Private businesses operate on public property pretty much everywhere, as allowed and regulated by the corresponding government entity (food carts, street vendors, concession stands). The precedent is that this type of activity IS allowed as it IS for the public’s benefit. It’s just he and certain other B&M owners that don’t feel it’s beneficial for them (which remains to be seen).

  • Why exactly is my argument wrong. I argue that as a bussiness owner I do not think that ANYBODY should be able to pull up and run a private bussiness in a public parking spot. Similiar to a home owner who buys a home with a great view, is it okay for someone to pull up in front of his home with an RV. Now that may sound silly, but anybody weather a Barber,fresh vegetable or jewwelry truck or food truck to take over a public parking spot for personnel use would have sounded just as ridculous to me just a few years ago. If someone can put a truck in front my store would they then be able to put up a tent for the cost of parking. And if not why not. Trust me when I tell you that it has nothing to do with competition it has to do with due diligence. How can you can ever feel secured in a prime location where the rent is top dollar if you can’t count on parking spots being for parking. You can E-mail me directly at john@zettis.com Thanks

    • Alan Bedenko

      John – how many hot dog carts and falafel carts and chestnut carts do you see in Manhattan? They’re on practically every corner, any day of the week, any time of day, sometimes directly adjacent to restaurants. Not only that, but a hot dog / falafel cart like that stays there all day (as do the hot dog vendors in downtown Buffalo). The food trucks can only stay in one place under this rule for about 2 hours at any time, and that’s what they usually do anyway because they’re not equipped to do much more than that.

      The point here is that if I’m hungry for lunch, I don’t just blindly seek out “food”. Sometimes I feel like pizza, sometimes I feel like tacos. And when I want tacos from Lloyd, I have to figure out if I can even get to them, depending on where they are. If I feel like Zetti’s, I know where you are, every day, and you even have heat. It’s a completely different business, and it’s not true that the trucks entire reason for being is to poach business from you.

      In any event, I think the regulations as they’re set up now are fair to both the brick & mortars and the trucks, but that they need some tweaking. No one is looking to park a truck right outside of your store. And even if they did, I don’t think it would be as bad a catastrophe as you think.

  • Brandon C.

    They are not ANYBODY tho, they have to pay for the food truck permit. Doing so gives them permissions under the laws that are set for them.

    Is little Jenny the 8 year old setting up a lemon-aid stand abusing public sidewalks too?

  • starbuck

    Public property on blocks near Zetti’s has long been used for commercial purposes such as trucks delivering goods to restaurants, bars, stores, etc. Sometimes those don’t even limit themselves to legal parking spots, but block a public traffic lane.

    Although each delivery like that isn’t as long as two hours, if durations of all deliveries using public property were summed up over the course of a month it would very likely exceed how much time a food truck would sit in any spot.

    I don’t even know why a new law has to be passed to allow food trucks if the city has had no law against them. Maybe it’s been legal all along and the police shouldn’t have ever told any trucks to leave as long as they obeyed parking rules and have health/business permits. Food truck owners cooperated, but it might have been interesting to see what courts would rule if any had politely refused to leave then contested any charges.

    From news reports I’ve seen, the Common Council isn’t repealing any existing law forbidding food trucks in public parking spots. If they’re only enacting new limitations on it, doesn’t it imply what Zetti’s is complaining so much about as if it’s a new injustice to them was already legal?

  • Armando

    I think the real problem is that food trucks will effect all restaurants and economic issues will be the result because the taxes paid by B & M establishments will decrease and the city, county revenues will decrease and the remaining business’ will be levied with higher taxes creating a cycle that would be unfavorable to everyone in Buffalo. we need to create long term economic growth for Buffalo and the examples from cities like San Fransisco and food trucks should be carefully examined. Then what if other trucks come on the scene with various business models taking more tax revenue, then what of the property value, neighborhoods could become slums……it’s just a bad idea. I say limit the amount of trucks, designate parking spots that will not hurt future growth and lets build Buffalo as a place to do business!

  • You are right the food trucks will effect the restaurants by creating competition. Which in turn drives down prices, creates better quality, and makes me work harder. In turn will benefit the consumer and weed out all the garbage. We don’t pay property taxes because we have no property! Of course you can say an $80,000 restaurant in the city pays higher taxes because the trucks have no seating, bathrooms, a/c, servers, alcohol, or shelter for our customers. My question is where is Mr. Jeff Russo of Pine Hill Coffee trucks during all of this? Is he going to continue to operate illegally in the city like he has for the past 40 years? Is he going to pay that $1000 fee for all of his 55 trucks? Is he going to get two 65 gallon garbage cans for each of his trucks? He was on the B&M side during this whole thing now where is he? Did Just Pizza and ETS give up that alliance with the so called “food truck” guy to pursue the “parking congestion” theory instead? Pine Hill has been doing this in the city for 40 years, and now some quality food comes along and Zetti’s, ETS, and Just Pizza get scared and go to city hall for protectionism. That’s all it is folks. If my truck puts a B&M out of business well they must not have had a good product. These guys are just grasping for straws. Pathetic!

  • Sharon

    As a taxpayer I would like Mr. Fusco to explain how a food truck paying (or not paying if the spots are already free) to park in a public spot for a couple of hours is different than a Brick and Mortar, privately owned and operated for profit business, accepting public money in the form of tax breaks and incentives. Often these tax breaks total hundreds of thousands of dollars in PUBLIC money with few or no enforceable employment requirements or guarantees that the business receiving these public funds will remain in the community once the tax breaks expire. I do not wish to imply that Mr. Fusco has accepted such incentives, as I have no idea if he has or has not, but I know many businesses in the area have. To my knowledge, the food trucks have not accepted public funding to start up or operate their business. Buffalo will be a great place for business when consumers have choices on where to spend their money instead of a government choosing for them.

  • John

    Hey Sharon, never accepted govt. money in my life. Then again didn’t know they were giving it away. Anyway if my original comment was read my main issue is the parking. If I was at all concerned about competition I would not have opened in a plaza with other restaurants or on one of the most restaurant populated streets in the city. As far as the food trucks paying fees, hell I hope they don’t have to pay a dime. To me the less the govt gets the better. If they do or don’t pay taxes it doesn’t effect me one bit. What does effect me is parking. At this moment the concern happens to be food trucks, but what happens and it willwhen other businesses get involved. If no laws get set now I think the parking will be a nightmare in many parts of Buffalo. Thanks John (Zetti’s)