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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Mobile Food Van Service For Roosevelt Island On Agenda For Tomorrow's RIOC Board Of Directors Real Estate Committee Meeting - Bring Luke Lobster and Other Good Mobile Food Trucks To Restaurant Starved Roosevelt Island

Previous post reported on the Luke's Lobster Mobile Food Van being chased off Roosevelt Island despite having all required New York City permits and Licenses. As Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Vice President of Operations Fernando Martinez explained:
Yes, a food vendor will have to provide RIOC with the appropriate NYC licences and copies of insurance.  We will then issue a RIOC permit.  However, please keep in mind that we are not currently accepting any applications for street food vending.
and a subsequent response from the RIOC Board of Directors:
... the Board has placed the issue of mobile food vendors on the agenda for the next Real Estate committee meeting to develop a procedure for handling them in a uniform, and fair way.
The issue of Mobile Food Trucks will be discussed in public at tomorrow's RIOC Board of Directors Real Estate Committee meeting along with an Executive Session closed to the public on the status of Island House privatization and ground lease extension. According to RIOC:
PLEASE TAKE NOTICE that a meeting of the Real Estate Development Advisory Committee of the RIOC Board of Directors will be held on Thursday, December 22, 2011 at 3:00 p.m. at the RIOC administrative office, 591 Main Street, Roosevelt Island, New York.

1. Discussion of Street Vending Licenses on Roosevelt Island;
2. Chair’s Motion for Executive Session to Review and Discuss the Status of Privatization/Affordability Plan and Ground Lease Extension for Island House.
Good mobile food trucks, and Luke's Lobster is an excellent one, are a great amenity  and should be allowed to operate on Roosevelt Island under the same rules and regulations as they do in any other NYC neighborhood.

Readers commenting on the Luke's post had this to say:

From Mark:
This is terrible.  If anything, we should be encouraging food trucks to make RI their evening dinner stop.
It's so aggravating to be a part of NYC and yet not. Food trucks are an awesome idea to help spice up the food options here on the island. All summer the ice cream truck parks here, why not allow more options. RIOC, you really really are missing the boat on this one...
Seriously! The RIOC need to get a life and give us all one too. A permit? Unbelievable! RI is the perfect place for food trucks and if the RIOC were smart, they would run events with the trucks every single weekend to draw more tourists to the island. I have lived here since 1979 and I cannot think of one thing the RIOC did to better the life for the residents without trying to squeeze a buck from someone. ARGH!!!!
Roosevelt Island: we must preemptively lower the quality of life.
This is terrible. Luke's is one of the best food trucks in the city. It's more upscale, and high quality than anything currently on the island, without interfering with real estate.
Roosevelt Island Residents Association Planning Committee Chair Frank Farance commented:
... I recognize that RIOC may control permitting on its properties, such as the sidewalk near the subway.  However, a food truck on a public street (Main Street), I believe, is outside of RIOC's control.

If a mobile food vendor complies with the NYC licensing and permitting requirements:


AND, Roosevelt Island's Main Street is *not* on the list of restricted streets for mobile food vendors:


THEN, under what authority does RIOC/PSD have the right to ask the food vendor to leave?...
There are more comments here.

During the December 14 RIOC Board of Directors meeting,  Nonno's Focacceria and Riverwalk Bar & Grill owner Alphonse DiCioccio expressed objections to mobile food vendors, such as Luke's Lobster and the Domino's Pizza car at the Farmers Market, being allowed to sell food on Roosevelt Island asserting that it was unfair to existing store owners who pay rent. Here's what he had to say.

You Tube Video of December RIOC Board Meeting Public Session (Part 2)

Commenting on this post, theohiostate writes:
 ...the Food Vendor's should also pay some kind of rent or permit fee.  They shouldn't get to sell here for free.  If that happens, our local businesses - the few that we have - will close, and we will have nothing....
I replied:
The Mobile Food vans should be allowed on Roosevelt Island under the same circumstances and permits that exist in any other NYC neighborhood.

The more food choices Roosevelt Island residents have the better. If residents decide to spend their money at food vans rather than existing restaurants, the answer is for the restaurants to improve their offerings, not work to ban the mobile food vendors.
An audio web cast of the RIOC Board Of Directors Real Estate Committee public session should be available a few days after the meeting. The Executive Session on Island House Privatization will not be made public.


Mark Lyon said...

I certainly wish the meeting had been scheduled with a bit more notice.  Unfortunately, I have a meeting tomorrow at 2, making it impossible to attend.  I emailed comments to the RIOC information address, though.  Perhaps they will be considered.

===I was incredibly disappointed to hear that the Public Safety Department ejected the Luke's Lobster truck from the Island. As someone who recently moved from Manhattan, I expected to find fewer delivery and take-out options available in my new home, but I did not expect our government to be actively working to eliminate choice and variety.  I am aware of and understand Mr. DiCioccio's comments at the 14 December RIOC Board meeting.  I certainly welcome his businesses (and wish he would utilize SeamlessWeb to simplify ordering and payment), but believe that competition will breed better options for everyone. Would he also advocate that PSD place a checkpoint at the bridge to prevent Queens-based delivery services from competing with China 1 and Nonno's?  If food trucks can provide better choices than existing businesses, it is a disservice to residents for RIOC to artificially exclude those choices in favor of its lessees. It is even more troubling for RIOC to allow some mobile vendors (like ice cream trucks) but to exclude others.I believe it would benefit everyone for us to embrace, not exclude, mobile food vendors. One could easily imagine a very effective program that encourages mobile food vendors to visit Roosevelt Island each evening, serving dinner to willing residents as they arrive at the tram or subway station.  Being able to stop and grab hot, fresh, convenient lobster rolls, barbecue, steaks, noodles, fajitas, waffles or other food truck fare might make an excellent addition to the pizza, Chinese, bar and diner options already available. Instead of an island known for its limited choices, we could become a place of variety.  During warmer months, weekend food truck events could drive tourism to our parks and other facilities. After reviewing the Roosevelt Island Ground Lease, I am unable to find support for RIOC's position that a special permit can be required for Mobile Food Vendors with a valid citywide permit.  I urge the Board, if it decides to continue its policy of exclusion, to outline the legal basis for its position and to adopt a clear and nondiscriminatory policy for issuance of its own permits.Thank you for your consideration.

roozevelt said...

Mark Lyon and Frank Farance have gone out of their way to illustrate that we islanders should have the opportunities to purchase other options for food.  I agree that we should have these options.  However, I also think if there is a rule in place that outside vendors - like Mr. Softee - have to pay a permit fee to sell here, then they should just do that.  I don't believe the RIOC Real Estate Committee (or the RIOC President) ever ever said they could not sell here.  I beileve the message was that they couldn't sell here without obtaining a permit.  While this is NYC, R.I. is run by the State.  Let the vendor's obtain the proper permit requested, and let's enjoy some different food options.  

zoilalexie said...

Mr. Farance, your diatribe here is again - OVER THE TOP.  You seriously, have too much time on your hands.  Either that, or you truly want to run the island.  RIRA President, RIOC Board applicant... shoot, you should be the RIOC President.  You have an idea and a position on EVERYTHING.  There isn't a topic on this blog that you don't have a strong opinion on.  Don't you have a job?
Come on, man... now you're citing rules from the NYS Driver's Manual???  You really need to get a life.  We get it... you're a smart guy.  Okay?  We get it! 

Mark Lyon said...

roozevelt, I don't believe there is legal support for requiring a special RI permit when the law already provides a citywide permit.  Further, even if a permit can be required, selectively making them available smacks of favoritism and bias.  As RIOC said, they are not currently accepting applications for new permits.