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.

FOOD, NEWS, OUTDOORS | 3 comments | permalink
    1. steven says:

      Brewer is absolutely right about this. These trucks have taken over the streets, and have become a complete nuisance for pedestrians. It’s a very smart idea to use biodiesel for the trucks’ generators, and allowing them to plug into the electrical grid is quite clever and innovative. Will the mayor be humble enough to accept Brewer’s proposal and implement these ideas. I am doubtful. But Brewer should persist. The emissions from these trucks, particularly the ice cream trucks, are incredibly unhealthy, and this proposal would fix that. Kudos to Brewer.

    2. annie smith says:

      Track food trucks? The city council should look into other things besides breaking constitutional rights of people who work on the trucks. Perhaps things like helping the unemployed? Or those who are homeless? Oh I forgot, those actually require work instead of annoying mandates to DRIVE work & business AWAY!

    3. VBK says:

      The sidewalks is ours, the citizens of NYC, we should be very selective on who gets to use them, besides the general pedestrians of the city.
      The food carts are not all the same for sure, the ones that are “passive” meaning not cooking or producing electricity are one sort, the other actively cooking on premises kind is way too prolific at this point, it has definitely gone way beyond acceptable in my mind.
      They have grown in size some taking up 4′-5′ x 10′-15′ way too much real estate and many are a health hazard and a noise pollutant. Walking up 7th Av. I counted 7 food carts on one block all having open kitchen with hygiene conditions questionable to say the least! They should be subjected to the same requirements as kitchens in restaurants and inspected by the city health department. If they get the privilege to use our sidewalks they should be subjected to our rules and regulations, keeping our public domaine clean, accessible, safe and healthy. I also hope the city will recognize that an active cooking cart, should not be located on the corner of our most beloved Central Park and Columbus Circle, one of our most prominent icons in the city. Hope this matter will be resolved very soon by the Bloomberg administration.
      Thank you Brewer for tackling this matter stay with it we will support it!!