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Food Truckin’ Off to Buffalo

by on February 12, 2013

Enjoy your artisan locally-sourced heirloom fusion Asian ginger soy taco served from a truck, you utterly pretentious hipster. I’ll eat next to you. Any van with a fryer pulled up to a nearby curb is a surprising delight that offers a chance to feel urbane while sauce drips from your wrists to elbows.

But politicians can make anything unappetizing. Governments always feel they deserve a cut for existing where a company plies its trade, so food trucks better get used to paying for the privilege of having their tires touch the ground. Otherwise, they’ll be asked to shift from park to drive, or at least neutral if on top of a hill. Amherst chased away a burgeoning tortilla concern, and the people-feeder won’t just move to an area more welcoming to traveling deliciousness while restricted by nothing other than the speed limit:

The popular Lloyd Taco Truck was asked to leave a commerce park in Amherst on Monday.

The town’s building inspector, Thomas Ketchum, said Lloyd did not have the proper permit to serve food on Ridge Lea Road.

A building inspector is checking a truck for what is undoubtedly a super good reason. The rulers must get a free side order out of this. Put it on the tab of people with food who feed people with money. A slip of paper from the jurisdiction makes everything official.

There’s no reason to trust your own experiences and reviews from previous customers when you can get a false sense of security from bureaucrats who are guaranteeing your safety and not just raising revenue by taking it from commerce:

The town’s transient business 90 day permit costs $100 and covers a single location in the town.

Bureaucrats calculate how much they can squeeze out of a businessman who actually earned his cash. Recognizing that food trucks are an innovative industry that shouldn’t be punished for offering unique advantages to customers just isn’t profitable enough for governments. And heaven forbid your elected officials make things fair by lowering rates for everyone:

Ketchum said Monday night, “We’re looking at it in terms of how they’re competing with fixed business on real property. So a $100 fee as opposed to a business at a fixed location that’s paying real estate taxes and other taxes, we feel that a $100 fee for a food vendor is not very onerous.”

Earlier this month, the town board approved a resolution that would allow lawmakers to start discussion on permit legislation specific to food trucks. However, board members haven’t passed that specific legislation.

Cimino and his attorney say they are continuing to talk with the town in hopes of resolving this issue.

What a great way to have to spend profits from taco-peddling. Other municipalities haven’t been keeping up:

You’ll remember many food trucks in Buffalo recently had issues about where they could or couldn’t go, and that was eventually resolved after the common council passed permit legislation.

It’s unfortunate that local leaders can’t keep up even with lumbering trucks, although the essentially stalled pace is wholly unsurprising. They stand in pitiful contrast to peripatetic restaurateurs who make a mundane transaction feel exciting, as a new cuisine parked on the curb makes life seem both scrumptiously offbeat and hectically manageable. There’s no stronger sign of entrepreneurial spirit than someone willing to bring a kitchen to you.

The squirmy nature that makes them inherently resistant to regulation is precisely why the government doesn’t like food trucks. They find it difficult control a mutual exchange between hungry people and those who drive about looking to satiate that most standard recurring human need.

The ability to literally move to where stomachs growl is a great way to get people a meal with low overhead. But grabby officials pair with grumbling proprietors of relatively unwieldy eateries to take money for the former in the name of the latter. Consider property taxes the price for offering the advantage of seating.

Some towns feel entitled to a piece of the action while running interference for sit-down places who moan that it’s unfair how a competitor has a cheaper service model. But it’s easy to find someplace more hospitable to the street food component of Portlandia-style living. Like so many other businesses, food trucks will just move elsewhere, even if it’s easier for those whose restaurants have engines.

From → Buffalo

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