NYC also hating on innovation, opportunity with interminable food-truck regulations

posted at 7:21 pm on May 8, 2013 by Erika Johnsen

The other day, I mentioned the disheartening case of Uber cab and New York City’s many rules and regulations governing their business model, which just so happen to allow established cab companies and their associations plenty of recourse for rent-seeking rather than coping with the competition brought on by Uber’s arrival on the scene.

Most unfortunately, that growth-discouraging pattern isn’t a random quirk of the transportation industry: The restaurant business is also rather displeased that some companies have been enterprising enough to put their operations on wheels, and the city most unwisely makes it worth their while to try and thwart the food-truck business from scooping up portions of their market share through means other than simply attracting customers. It’s one thing to require food vendors to have a health-and-safety permit, but what’s going on here is another thing entirely, via the NYT:

That’s because despite the inherent attractiveness of cute trucks and clever food options, the business stinks. There are numerous (and sometimes conflicting) regulations required by the departments of Health, Sanitation, Transportation and Consumer Affairs. These rules are enforced, with varying consistency, by the New York Police Department. As a result, according to City Councilman Dan Garodnick, it’s nearly impossible (even if you fill out the right paperwork) to operate a truck without breaking some law. Trucks can’t sell food if they’re parked in a metered space . . . or if they’re within 200 feet of a school . . . or within 500 feet of a public market . . . and so on. …

Economically speaking, the problem is a standard one, known as the J-curve, which represents a downslope on a graph followed by a steep rise. Some sensible changes to the current food-vendor system may have long-term benefits for everyone, but the immediate impact could spell short-term losses for those who now profit from the system. A small group of New Yorkers — particularly owners of commissaries and physical restaurants — are highly motivated to lobby politicians not to change things. And most of the potential beneficiaries don’t realize they’re missing out. Many of the rest of us would love to have more varied food trucks, but we don’t care enough to pressure the City Council.

The one group that clearly suffers from the current system — the ticketed vendors — are often poorly paid immigrants without legal status and virtually no power. This sort of dynamic more or less sums up the economies of the third world. Economists generally agree that one of the distinguishing factors between rich countries and poor ones is that it is much easier to start businesses in rich countries.

Mary Katharine has already written about the many problems imposed on would-be food-truck entrepreneurs in the nation’s capital, and it certainly sounds like Manhattan is no picnic, either.

Again, this is just a micro-example of the type of junk regulation and special-interest pandering happening all over the place, but the good news is that these tax-heavy, regulatory-raging cities and states can compete for residents just like businesses can compete for profits. I wonder if situations like this aren’t one of the reasons New York City is one of the slowest-growing cities in the United States, perhaps?


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Son of Foodtruck Thread.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 7:22 PM

I wonder if situations like this aren’t one of the reasons New York City is one of the slowest-growing cities in the United States, perhaps?

No Erika, I’m pretty sure the fact that New York is one of the most expensive/crowded cities in the country accounts for its slow growth

nonpartisan on May 8, 2013 at 7:24 PM

The one group that clearly suffers from the current system — the ticketed vendors — are often poorly paid immigrants without legal status and virtually no power.

So they are illegals ?
How do they pay their taxes then ?

burrata on May 8, 2013 at 7:30 PM

Spark Plug is going to be upset!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2013 at 7:32 PM

So they are illegals ?
How do they pay their taxes then ?

burrata on May 8, 2013 at 7:30 PM

…ask noforeskin…he’s a genius!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2013 at 7:33 PM

Liberal dumphole where the populace allows their elected mayor to decide what size sodas they can drink has egregious conflicting regulations? Wow, that is big news.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Just offer mobile abortion services along with the culinary delights and the regulations will disappear.

Be wary of any trucks serving dumplings though….

rw on May 8, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Son of Foodtruck Thread.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 7:22 PM

…woah!….1st…..I was almost going to warn you!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2013 at 7:35 PM

Return of Food Truck Thread and a true Bishop.

Anyone seen Pookie?

wolfsDad on May 8, 2013 at 7:35 PM

I wonder if situations like this aren’t one of the reasons New York City is one of the slowest-growing cities in the United States, perhaps?

No Erika, I’m pretty sure the fact that New York is one of the most expensive/crowded cities in the country accounts for its slow growth

nonpartisan on May 8, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Yes, because food trucks are central to economic prosperity and innovation. But don’t worry, Wall Street will come up with some new, highly ‘innovative’ derivative products to instigate another financial crisis. It’s only a matter of time before innovation is on the way…

bayam on May 8, 2013 at 7:36 PM

Spark Plug is going to be upset!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2013 at 7:32 PM

SparkPlug has some explaining to do!

Son of Foodtruck Thread.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 7:22 PM

Axe on May 8, 2013 at 7:38 PM

Fort Worth has a food truck park. Different trucks all the time, picnic tables, live music, restrooms, and beer. It’s awesome!

txhsmom on May 8, 2013 at 7:40 PM

A wild Food Truck Thread appeareth.

tom daschle concerned on May 8, 2013 at 7:42 PM

…woah!….1st…..I was almost going to warn you!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2013 at 7:35 PM

I put out a contract on myself.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 7:43 PM

Hard to start a food truck business; even harder to find an affordable place to live, there, as if anyone would want to.

A Blog About Trying to Find Affordable Housing in New York City

PatriotGal2257 on May 8, 2013 at 7:44 PM

even harder to find an affordable place to live, there, as if anyone would want to.

Pardon my being comma happy.

PatriotGal2257 on May 8, 2013 at 7:47 PM

bayam on May 8, 2013 at 7:36 PM

…the jacka$$…is braying EVERYWHERE today!

KOOLAID2 on May 8, 2013 at 7:50 PM

Another big problem in NYC that benefits the connected is rent control. If they did away with it, the property values would sink with all the added stock in the mix. It could even out eventually, but why take the chance when you can pay off the city council and stay safe?

PattyJ on May 8, 2013 at 7:51 PM

Yes, because food trucks are central to economic prosperity and innovation. But don’t worry, Wall Street will come up with some new, highly ‘innovative’ derivative products to instigate another financial crisis. It’s only a matter of time before innovation is on the way…

bayam on May 8, 2013 at 7:36 PM

Funny most of those food truck owners work harder and have been more innovative than you can ever dream of being.

CW on May 8, 2013 at 7:51 PM

ProgTard RegulaterTards OverDrive OverLoad RegulationNazi’s!!

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 7:57 PM

Institute for Justice has been on this case in many cities:
http://ij.org/search?searchword=food+truck

JimK on May 8, 2013 at 8:01 PM

Pardon my being comma happy.

PatriotGal2257 on May 8, 2013 at 7:47 PM

PatriotGal12257:

FROM THE BIG CAP BRIGADE SOCIETY:

WELCOME,to the X-TRA COMMA’S,are,okay TOO, DIVISION—————:O

(laughing with ya)-:)

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 8:01 PM

I put out a contract on myself.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 7:43 PM

So, the funny thing is that sounds like it would fit right in with standard labor logic.

Count to 10 on May 8, 2013 at 8:01 PM

No Erika, I’m pretty sure the fact that New York is one of the most expensive/crowded cities in the country accounts for its slow growth

nonpartisan on May 8, 2013 at 7:24 PM

Overregulation that stifles competition and adds artificial costs tends to cause prices to rise.

forest on May 8, 2013 at 8:05 PM

A Blog About Trying to Find Affordable Housing in New York City

PatriotGal2257 on May 8, 2013 at 7:44 PM

PatriotGal2257:This comes to memory.:)
=====================================

Rent Is Too Damn High Party Debate
***********************************

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kcsNbQRU5TI

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 8:06 PM

RegulationsGov
RegulationsGov Verified account
@RegulationsGov

Official Twitter account. We support your ability to make a difference in Federal decision-making. Your forum: facebook.com/RegulationsGov

Washington, D.C. · http://www.regulations.gov

https://twitter.com/RegulationsGov

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 8:07 PM

Here in the Texas oil patch, there have also been food truck controversies, mainly over the battle between brick-and-mortar restaurants and the trucks they see as stealing their customers (though the trucks do most of their business by opening before sunrise to cater to the early-morning breakfast crowd). For now, the answer’s been to not kick them out, but to make sure they have both their health permits and are remitting sales taxes locally (one food truck was doing land office business, but their sales tax permit was for a town 75 miles away. So that city was getting the local share of the state’s 8 1/4 percent take without a single item being sold inside its borders).

jon1979 on May 8, 2013 at 8:14 PM

I put out a contract on myself.

Bishop on May 8, 2013 at 7:43 PM

Bishop:Were you smart enough to include the Bunker location!

Runs Like Hell!
(sarc):)

canopfor on May 8, 2013 at 8:20 PM

Overregulation that stifles competition and adds artificial costs tends to cause prices to rise.

forest on May 8, 2013 at 8:05 PM

There is also the fact that the concentration of rich liberals is so large there that they have a significant effect on to kinds of goods are available and competitive. So, it’s a fairly cheap place to find luxury goods, but an expensive place to find staples.

Count to 10 on May 8, 2013 at 8:33 PM

So that city was getting the local share of the state’s 8 1/4 percent take without a single item being sold inside its borders).

jon1979 on May 8, 2013 at 8:14 PM

OMG

CW on May 8, 2013 at 9:00 PM

Food truck threads rock.

TitularHead on May 8, 2013 at 9:46 PM

NYC…..IRONY headquarters of America!

The Media and elitists there make fun of the hicks and hayseeds with no brains yet….they have the cities that are headed headlong into bankruptcy, are killing their local economy, and elect the dumbest of the dumb political leaders devoid of common sense………and for the cherry on top…….they don’t even connect the dots.

Ugh!!

PappyD61 on May 8, 2013 at 10:08 PM

The one group that clearly suffers from the current system — the ticketed vendors — are often poorly paid immigrants without legal status and virtually no power.

Democratic policy hurting their illegal sacred cows? What a surprise!

thuja on May 9, 2013 at 8:48 AM

The problem with food trucks is that they squat on public property as part of their business model. Brick and mortar restaurants aren’t restricted by what they put outside on the sidewalks surrounding their locations yet pay property taxes (either directly or indirectly through rent) that benefit the city. Food carts take over the sidewalks yet don’t have to pay property taxes because they don’t have fixed locations.

blammm on May 9, 2013 at 9:54 AM

“NYC also hating on innovation,”…Hating on? Really? Has ebonics gone mainstream now?

rjh on May 9, 2013 at 11:18 AM

I think the worthless wind mills of death can be retired.

pat on May 12, 2013 at 3:07 AM