Monday, November 28, 2011

Councilwoman Jen Giattino on the proposed food truck ordinance

A subcommittee meeting held last Tuesday and open to the public discussed the proposed Mobile Food Truck Vendor ordinance.  Food truck vendors, other business owners, and Hoboken residents showed up to offer valuable feedback.  Much thought and consideration had already gone into the ordinance before the subcommittee meeting and much more will.  This is a public process looking to balance many views and perspectives.  Here is a summary on the proposed ordinance.

The Mobile Food Truck Vendor ordinance needed to be created from scratch because the ordinance currently on Hoboken's books was only written for pushcart vendors and ice cream trucks.  In addition, because of our current parking rule that enforces a 2 hour limit at meters, food trucks would no longer be able to serve Hoboken.  The 2 hour rule limits mobile food vendors just as it does any other person parked at a meter.  This would make it impossible for food trucks to exist in Hoboken considering the time that is needed for set up and breakdown, along with having enough time to serve.

In addressing the existing parking situation, many ordinances were looked at from throughout the country and are much more restrictive and expensive than the template we have started with on Hoboken's ordinance.  We are taking into consideration, the public's feedback and concerns about the parking issues in our city.

The proposed cost for each food vender truck is $4,265.  While this is a lot higher than the nominal $500 that exists today, there is a reason why that figure is more equitable to all parties concerned.  The proposed number is derived as follows:

- adding 2 more hours to the current 2 hour maximum parking at metered parking is $1250
- program administration cost to the City - based on annualized cost of $61,440 for 25 licenses
- a $500 application fee
- a $15 Health Certificate

This comes out to be less than $10 a day for trucks who operate 7 days a week.

The proposed ordinance includes a proximity rule where food trucks are no closer than 100 feet from the entrance of an existing restaurant and 50 feet from another food truck.  This strikes a balance for businesses who pay property taxes and have a reasonable expectation not to have a competing business right outside their door.  It also bears recognition for our local businesses who are already contributing to the tax base of the city and employing many people in town, while balancing the increased options for both residents and visitors who want to enjoy a wide variety of food at a lower cost.  The proposed ordinance is also not restrictive on access for anyone who patronizes the food truck vendors.

There have been misunderstandings on how the proposed 14 day rule works, which gives Hoboken the right to revoke a license if it is not used in a consecutive two week period.  It is intended to give the city the right to revoke a license obtained for the purpose of blocking others from operating a food truck or simply buying up a license or licenses to limit the number of trucks.  For instance, if a truck breaks down or a vendor is is going on vacation the vendor can notify the city.  The intention is not to force people to operate everyday, but to protect all license holders against unfair practices.

With an update in the proposed ordinance, a mobile food truck will be legally allowed to park at a metered spot for 4 hours along with a non metered spot for 4 hours on the same day which totals up to 8 hours daily.  A mobile food truck that starts to operate at 6am can remain in in a space until 1pm as the 4 hour rule holds from 9 am to 9pm when meter collections are active.

The proposed total amount of food truck licenses was calculated from a base of the current 16 in operation.  Some have quoted a figure of 45 trucks today but that number includes hotdog carts and ice cream trucks. The number 25 was determined to allow for future growth.

We will be scheduling another subcommittee meeting next week discuss all of the input from the public meeting on November 22.  I want to thank everyone who attended the meeting and for putting forward all their questions, ideas and concerns.  There were many great ideas and I'm looking forward to working with everyone in this process.

Thank you,

Jen Giattino
6th Ward Councilwoman