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Brown says he'd sign food truck rules into law

Mayor Byron W. Brown says he would sign into law the latest draft of the rules for food trucks in the City of Buffalo as it's been proposed, if passed by the Common Council.

"I think this is just an opportunity to make Buffalo a more progressive city," Brown said this week.

Brown said that while there "has to be a balance" of the concerns between the food trucks and the brick-and-mortar restaurants, the sunset provision of the law will allow all parties to review it and make changes "in a way that works."

But it's rare for city lawmakers to pass something without making changes, the Council's majority leader said.

Lovejoy Council Member Richard A. Fontana said he does not believe the regulations for mobile vending would be passed as written.

The draft regulations call for a 100-foot buffer between the food truck and the property line of a restaurant with an open kitchen. The buffer between food truck and a festival or other event sanctioned by the city would be 500 feet.

The proposed license fee is $1,000.

The Western New York Food Truck Association is "generally pleased" with the proposal, its lawyer has said.

Meanwhile, Michael H. Kooshoian, the attorney for a group of restaurant owners who have been calling for tighter restrictions, has said he doesn't believe the city has listened to the group's concerns.

Kooshoian said the restaurateurs, known as Entrepreneurs for a Better Buffalo, remain concerned about potential public safety issues, especially in cases when food trucks park on Hertel or Elmwood, which already have a lot of pedestrian and vehicular traffic.

The proposed rules for the operation of mobile vehicles, sponsored by North Council Member Joseph Golombek Jr., will be officially introduced at Tuesday's Council meeting and will likely be sent to the Legislation Committee.

Under the proposal:

*A food truck found to have violated the rules would be fined $200 for a first offense. A second violation would bring a $350 fine, and the license would be revoked after a third offense. Any food truck that operates without a license would be fined $1,500 for each violation.

*All food truck signage must be "permanently affixed" to the vehicle.

*All applicants for a food truck license would be subject to a criminal background check.

The proposed law would expire April 1, 2013, a provision which lawmakers have said would allow for the measure to be refined.

The earliest the measure could come to a vote would be Jan. 10.

Though he didn't mention any specific objections, Fontana said he will be considering how the rules would affect existing restaurants.

He said he owns the William Street building where his brother runs Fontana's Ogden Restaurant, a business he formerly ran. He said that while some have used that to question his potential motives, he does not believe he would need to recuse himself from a vote on this proposal.