There are so many areas of our lives where its becoming de facto impossible to comply with all the laws/regulations without devoting an unreasonable amount of time/resources towards compliance
The Planning Office also released a map of the updated zones allowed under the ordinance, which, if you ignore setbacks, should include every parcel that isn't straight residential. I believe it was our City Planner who mentioned that someone had FOIA'd the updated map about 20 minutes before the Planning Commission meeting. I only wish I could've mapped it sooner! ;)
I've been considering potential targets for "radical deregulation." An experiment in getting rid of all licensing and certifications and just "see what happens." The risk here is too many taco trucks, and some minor fear of food poisoning. Personally, I'd be willing to accept that in exchange for massive increase in consumer choice and greater opportunity for small businesses to get out from under corporate overlords.
In my experience food regulation does very little for food safety. When somebody opens a stall to sell food, they generally know how to cook very well. And a single incidence of bad food is enough to put somebody out of business. These places all develop regulars, and when they lose a regular - it hurts. Sell unclean food, and your regulars are gone. And people also talk, meaning you may lose customers that didn't even come that day.
All in all in something like a decade of travel in developing nations, I got food poisoning once. Ironically it was from a western targeted fast food chain! I've never gotten sick from eating at 'street food' vendors literally thousands of times, excepting the early months when you first move to a place that's mostly just your body adjusting to all the new microbial stuff that's present even in clean food.
And in many ways, I think the direct ownership provides far greater safeguards than a mountain of rules and regulations. Because in the end those rules and regulations mean absolutely nothing when some detached worker decides not to wash their hands after coming back from the toilet. That and the fact that they are generally going to locally source their ingredients, whereas McCorporate Burger is going to see where they can find the cheapest substance that can legally be classified as meat that passes taste tests, and then import it by the ton.
This idea that small businesses are somehow exemplars of food hygiene is nonsense.
Some of the oldest laws made relate to food safety.
So in terms of getting sick from food, we actually score substantially worse than the entire rest of the world. Our death rates are 6x lower than expected which sounds very good, but I think that's unlikely to be attributable to the FDA. Our relatively large rate of foodborn illness is more of an annoyance than anything. But an annoyance for us us is something that kills people in rural areas with less knowledge and less access to resources. In particular the way people die from food poisoning is not some crazy hyper virulent strain of some hyper dangerous ailment or whatever. It's just plain old diarrhea from bad food -- something that's practically unheard of in the developed world. A couple of bottles of gatorade, lots of water, and some pepto turns diarrhea into a mild annoyance for at most a few days for those in developed areas. But for those without access to resources or the knowledge of how dangerous plain old dehydration actually can be, it can kill quite quickly.
And in any case this is primarily going to be people cooking their own food at home and making themselves sick. I'd strongly recommending traveling to the developing world. I certainly never would have taken anything I've said at face value before. But living life in a different way makes you appreciate both the things we do right, and the things we do wrong. And having a million regulations on food for the sake of safety that doesn't even really materialize is something I think we are doing very wrong.
 - https://www.cdc.gov/foodborneburden/index.html
 - http://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/food-safe...
The article itself, btw, is a pretty nifty use of PostGIS viz.
Edit: Originally had all of California included but it was pointed out that my knowledge was limited to San Francisco as LA does not have the same requirements.
The carts simply have no prep space so they prep the food at a kitchen. I frequent one halal cart here in Queens, Shah's, and have many times witnessed the delivery van pull up and drop off food. I've also seen them cut open a vacuum sealed bag of raw marinated meat, pour it over the grill and start cooking. Delicious.
It's actually pretty convenient, since two streets over from my office there's usually a dozen or so trucks all available on a low-traffic street.
Another commenter mentioned that there may be various classifications of food such that a Pizza truck may be able to get around it due to the nature of the ingredients but I'm unfamiliar as to where those lines are drawn
If you know food trucks are doing terrible things, but you can't prove they're doing anything wrong, you can solve your problem by dropping the evidence requirement.
Do you have a source for this so I can clarify my understanding? I thought that Chicago was somewhat infamous until recently for being the only major city in the US that didn't allow food trucks to cook on board.
Note that requiring that a truck have a commissary is not the same as mandating that all cooking happen there. The common requirement to have a commissary is so inspectors know where to find trucks, presumably.
Even fast food franchises do all their salads centrally to avoid the Chipotle scare that happened a couple years ago.
> a restaurant fire suppression system shall be required for all cooking operations that produce grease-laden vapors. These systems can be activated automatically or manually to dispense chemicals to suppress the flames of a fire
I.e. it's not "each truck". You can have a food truck that doesn't create that particular fire hazard without an expensive fire suppression system.
Not to defend Boulder, specifically, but when thinking about regulations it's really easy to tally up "all" of the costs and benefits without crediting them for the nonexistent costs of the bad things that didn't happen.
I'm not against regulation, I'm against broad, overbearing, and dumb regulation.
2) Most cities fire code say that your backyard grill is required to be a certain distance from the building structure (my local ordinance says 15ft), it just so happens that most people ignore the local ordinances. Those codes are b/c of grill fires.
Just as a reminder: Up until the early 20th century, any large city that wasn't home to a Molasses-based catastrophe had at some point burned more or less completely down, usually killing thousands: Chicago, SF, London are well known.
I'm not convinced it's worth regulating their hours/locations, but I do sympathize a bit with the brutal economics of restaurants.
Of course they should. There is no assurances or guarantees that any business venture is going to be successful.
If you're running a mexican restaurant that goes out of business because of a taco truck, the answer isn't to outlaw taco trucks, it's to make your own restaurant better.
If you can't change your restaurant and you go out of business isn't it your fault for not adapting to customer tastes and preferences, not the taco trucks fault because it was able to satiate customer needs?
1. Get a few food trucks and park them in front of all potential competitor restaurants. Sell subsidized food.
2. Wait till these restaurants close because they can't compete with the subsidy.
3. Start their own restaurant selling really bad food at expensive prices.
This is the same kind of strategy that tech giants often follow to push startups out of business. Obviously, my example strategy is extreme (and possibly illegal), but food trucks can easily drive good restaurants out of business resulting in a worse culinary scene in the city. The purpose of the regulation being discussed here is to eliminate such bad forms of competition that result in worse outcomes in the long term.
And yet I don't see anyone out there arguing in favor of laws banning copycat restaurants.
If I can run a food truck and sell food at a lower cost to people who have to stand outside while they eat, and they prefer that over the experience you provide in your restaurant, the customer is not wrong. Good restaurants, by definition do not go out of business.
This requires a substantial investment. It is in no way comparable.
If there is an established profitable business case, financing will be widely and easily available.
6. Now whenever there is an overpriced restaurant, I get delicious, below-cost food from the upstart food trucks.
5. A new competitor, seeing the overpriced food, sees a profit opportunity and tries to execute the same strategy.
6. The same business from step (1), again does me a favor by providing me delicious food below my expected price.
What is so special about your hypothetical rich person that they become immune to competition or threat of competition upon reaching step 4?
An economy is a complex dynamic system. More importantly, it is continuous. We can certainly analyze fixed time periods and draw conclusions from these, but any conclusion must be drawn in the full understanding that there is a before and an after.
TL;DR Competition doesn't go away because one person did it well, once. Threat of competition can be as effective as actual competition.
The critical thing is that threat of competition is as effective as competition when there are low barriers to entry.
"Undercut and then raise prices" is not a terribly creative strategy - no offense, but you are not the first to come up with it, nor will you be the last. Since it is an obvious strategy, it is always a hanging threat to any restaurant or food truck proprietor. Artificially high prices are not a stable long term equilibrium.
If you are so certain that there is a neglected middle in the restaurant market, then open a restaurant and serve medium-quality food at prices a bit higher than medium-quality prices. It seems to me that if the world you posit that we live in exists, that there should be huge profit opportunity in such a market.
Anecdotally, in my travels everywhere I have been has multiple food options. This spans from small towns of a few thousand to large cities. These options tend to span a price range that is reasonable based on income demographics of the locations they are in.
People's preferences are not wrong!
If people no longer want to give patronage to any kind of establishment that establishment is not entitled to continued business.
Under what circumstances should a restaurant go out of business if not these in your opinion?
The long term equilibrium will be that places to eat that attract people's business will continue to flourish.
You could fill in the blank after 'by' and there will be people who turn up at planning meetings or city council meetings to deliver spittle flecked rants about how it'll be the death of the city.
A. A clever way of effectively outlawing something without saying as much (because the legislator understands the implications but has cover as they are "merely keeping them out of residential neighborhoods")
B. The unintended consequences of a legislator not understanding the ramifications of their own [well intentioned?] proposal
Noise, smell, litter, crowds, extra traffic, taking up space from people who wanted to use the park, fumes from generators or burners... lots of reasons.
> instead of hopping in a car and driving 10 minutes to apple/chilis/etc
I mean these aren’t really the only two options are they, come on.
Our Planner also clarified that food trucks are still bound by nuisance ordinances, e.g. for noise and fumes. Granted, claiming a fume nuisance is somewhat difficult, but we already do have laws for residential areas covering things like that. Planning Commission was also concerned about noise and exhaust from things like generators, which could very well happen in your neighbor's yard during a football game.
There's also the use argument. Food trucks are a commercial use, and operating them in a residential zone then suggests that there's a certain commercial use in a zone that, for better or worse, isn't supposed to have that use (as I understand it). As much as we'd like more mixed use, that sort of thing might not work for now. The City also acknowledged that when you mix uses like that, especially in a residential area, it can be contentious for neighbors.
All in all, I imagine they'll leave in the restriction about residential zones, which I think is fine for now. Right now, food trucks aren't specifically legal anywhere in the city, so this ordinance would be a great first step, even if we have to take some more steps later.
Maybe get a few of the truck owners to band together and ask Ann Arbor to try out something like that.
I can think of multiple concrete locations where this would work great without causing a nuisance.
Of course, I don't doubt that there are also more dense and/or differently configured suburbs where this wouldn't work as well.
> I mean these aren’t really the only two options are they, come on.
In many places those are the two options that a) aren't fast food or pizza, b) are family-friendly, and c) within 10 minutes of a large number of houses. Especially in parts of the country that drink more heavily, it's hard to find restaurants that satisfy (b)... tons of restaurants have a very bar-y atmosphere for most of the night.
I mean, feel free to disagree. But... from personal experience, yes, these places exist.
I expect in Ann Arbor that some of the motivation is street parking, of which there is not nearly enough in areas with student houses. And then additionally the disruption of traffic on the narrow residential streets.
The parcels that can have food trucks are near restaurants, so I think they aren't the issue.
Food trucks bypass a lot of this overhead, and it isn't fair to the restaurants. A case of food poisoning can affect a large number of people as well. Lost wages, hospital visits, etc.
By the way, hats off to the awesome QGIS, PostGIS, and GDAL (ogr2ogr) projects. I couldn't have done this nearly as easily without their efforts.
- QGIS, for quick sandboxing and ad hoc visualization
- PostGIS, for the actual parcel/zone computations
- ogr2ogr, for inserting Shapefile data into PostGIS