June 10, 2010

Save the food trucks!

Normally when I receive an e-mail from Ben Van Leeuwen, founder and president of Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream here in Brooklyn, I learn about an awesome new flavor, a store opening or generally some other sort of favorable news. They sell ice cream (and delicious baked goods + coffee), so what else would one expect?

Well, today's e-mail from Ben had a much different tone. Apparently, City Council members Jessica Lappin and Karen Koslowitz are introducting a law which would allow the Department of Health authority to suspend any vending permits issued to a truck with two parking tickets (feeding the meter or idling) and to revoke the permit of a truck that receives three tickets in a 12-month period. (The Wall Street Journal wrote about it too.)

Whoa. Whoa. What?

Oh, I'll tell you what - Lappin and Koslowtiz are threatening to put our favorite New York City food trucks out of service.  And I'm only going to say this once: You do NOT, I repeeat do NOT, take away my Van Leeuwen Artisan Ice Cream, Treats Truck , or Cupcake Stop. Oh no you don't!

Van Leeuwen has provided some ways that we can stand up and support our favorite local food trucks, so keep reading to see how we can save the folks and businesses that make our city so great - see Ben's entire e-mail below:

We need your help.

City Council members Jessica Lappin and Karen Koslowitz are introducing a law which would allow the Department of Health authority to suspend any vending permits issued to a truck with two parking tickets (feeding the meter or idling) and to revoke the permit of a truck that receives three tickets in a 12 month period.

While we do not condone breaking any laws, we feel that losing the ability to operate one’s business due to parking tickets is a punishment disproportionate to the violation. Furthermore, if other commercial vehicles were to be subject to this same law would that mean that UPS and Fedex would be prevented from operating in New York City because of two or three parking tickets?

We understand the Council member’s concerns about making spots fairly available for every vehicle but mobile food trucks are just a small portion of commercial vehicles that park in New York City. For the most part we make an attempt park in commercial zones whenever possible.

There are many potential solutions to this problem such as raising ticket prices, setting aside dedicated locations for mobile businesses and we would love to hear from you and for your voice to be heard by the appropriate Committee Members. Here is how you can help keep truckin alive in New York City by emailing twittering and joining a facebook page:

1. Come to the hearing: Wednesday June 16 @10am, Committee on Consumer Affairs, 250 Broadway (Hearing Room - 16th Floor)

2. Join the Facebook Page that Supports Truckers

3. Twitter your thoughts to Jessica Lapin (@jesslapin) or to Karen Koslowitz (@KK4NYC)

4. Email them your thoughts or you can cut and paste a draft that we have made for you to alter and personalize below:

Jessica Lapin lappin@council.nyc.gov
Karen Koslowitz koslowitz@council.nyc.gov


Dear Council Members Koslowitz and Lappin:
I am writing in support of the mobile food truck vendors in my neighborhood. These trucks not only offer a wonderful array of foods and beverages, they are a vital part of the lively street culture that helps define New York City. I love eating at the [INSERT YOUR FAVORITE TRUCKS AND LOCATION]

Your bill, which seeks to revoke mobile food permits based upon two to three violations of parking regulations within a period of one year, seems usurious and biased against a small segment of commercial vehicles that operate and park in New York City.
Of course these trucks need to follow City law like the rest of us, including paying the appropriate fines for any infractions they incur. But this bill is unfairly targeting truck food vendors. If residential car owners receive a few parking tickets in a year, their driving privileges are not revoked. If storefronts fail to shovel snow or sweep a few times a year, they’re not put out of business. Why should this bill apply to truck food vendors and not, say, Fedex whose trucks liberally use the city streets for deliveries? After two or three infractions, should FedEx be prevented from operating in New York City?
As a lover of all the unique things that make New York the city everyone loves to live in and visit, I ask you to please see my point of view: These food trucks are a real asset to our NYC – a treasure that must be preserved. And I ask you to also consider the livelihoods of the mobile food vendors. These people stand a good chance of losing their businesses based upon the all-too-easy- to-imagine scenario wherein they receive two violations in a given 12-month period. Our national goal is preserve and create jobs right now, not to eliminate them! And as members of our city council, I certainly hope that would be yours, as well.
I respectfully request that you discontinue any action on, or support of, this proposed legislation.

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