City Councilwoman Gale Brewer is pushing the mayor to pay more attention to the explosion in the number of food trucks and carts in the city, and start to standardize enforcement. Among her ideas: track food trucks using GPS to find out where they are and where they’re going; make food trucks use “whisper quiet” technology and green generators; and allow them to plug-in to the curbside city grid.
In a letter she sent to the mayor last week, Brewer wrote that the trucks can offer “a source of fresh and inventive food at agreeable prices,” but they also spew pollution and noise and violate all sorts of parking laws. Complaints about food trucks have spiked on the the Upper West Side in the past couple of years.
There is still no data on how many vendor trucks and carts are out there, how many are licensed, or where they’re located. And while 5 different agencies are supposed to be regulating the trucks, only local police departments appear to be doing it, Brewer said. On the Upper West Side, officers from the 20th and 24th precincts work on “crack conditions teams” (Swarm!) to go to meetings, research regulations and enforce the rules.
Brewer thinks the city should follow the Upper West Side model and engage numerous departments to monitor and enforce rules regarding food trucks. She also thinks that the city needs to standardize parking enforcement. And “GPS would be useful in tracking their identity, location, aggregation, and pattern of travel.”
But one NYC foodie recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times about why enforcing parking statutes in a consistent way is a bad idea. The immigrants who have parked their food carts at certain corners for years have established a kind of informal understanding with local authorities and businesses that allows them to operate without being harassed or overly ticketed, writes Zach Brooks of Midtown Lunch in the op-ed entitled Outlaws Make Better Lunches.
“The vague rules have long deterred any passionless big businesses looking for the next lucrative franchise. Turn street spots into legal real estate controlled by the city, and it will be only a matter of time before street food becomes just as bland and generic as that of any fast-food restaurant in Midtown.”
What do you think?
Photo by Avi.