HOBOKEN -- Food truck vendors filled a City Hall conference room on Tuesday evening for a council subcommittee meeting. The drivers were there to oppose the possibility of major fee hikes after a new food truck ordinance was introduced at last week's council meeting.
However, Councilman David Mello said after the meeting that he anticipates that the changes could take a while, and that he expects the subcommittee to revise the ordinance before bringing it back to the council for a final vote.
Before the meeting even started, restaurant owners in the city began bickering with the food truck vendors in attendance. As part of the proposed legislation, food trucks have to be at least 100 feet away from a "brick and mortar" restaurant. Food truck owners would even be required to install a global positioning system on their trucks. Some restaurant owners are upset that trucks pull in front of their store and are potentially taking away clients.
The major issue for many vendors is that city fees will be raised from $500 to a total of $4,250. The ordinance was based on a review of over 15 other cities and their legislation, according to Parking and Transportation Director Ian Sacs. Sacs also said that the current $500 permit was designed for simple non-engine mobile vendors, like a hot dog cart. Currently, vehicles are only permitted to park at metered spots for two hours per day in Hoboken. As the ordinance is currently written, the fees would allow food truck owners to park in town at a meter up to four hours, and then they would be able to park in a "permit parking only" spot for at least four hours. The fee increase would cover the cost of enforcement of the law, Sacs said.
Currently, there are approximately 16 mobile food truck vendors in Hoboken. The ordinance would cap the number of permits for mobile vendors at 25.
Hoda Mahmoodzadegan is planning on opening a new vegetarian food truck in Hoboken within the next two weeks. She said she left her corporate job to pursue this venture.
"I don’t have this money," she said about the proposed fees. "This wasn’t built in my financial plan."
Adam Sobel, who runs a vegetarian food truck called The Cinnamon Snail, said he would not be able to continue operating in Hoboken if this legislation were to pass.
"This is going to take away the 4,000 some odd people who follow me on Facebook and come to this town who would never come to Hoboken," he said.
Rory Chadwick, a retail storeowner in Hoboken, said he has concerns about the food trucks parking at metered spots all day because those spots should be reserved for store visitors.
Mello said, "The two people sponsoring this are pretty much of the opinion that this will have to go back to first reading," Mello said, meaning that a revised ordinance will likely be before the council in the future.
For much more, keep reading HudsonReporter.com or pick up a copy of The Hoboken Reporter this weekend. -- Ray Smith