Village of New Paltz trustees interested in legalizing some food trucks around the community have purportedly been asking local restaurateurs what they think. Only one of those business owners opted to make comments publicly during the March 23 board meeting. Seth Branitz didn’t mince words, saying, “I think it’s a ridiculous idea.” An owner of Karma Road, Branitz drove home the point that adding more competition during what’s shaping up to be a long recovery could result in the failure of established businesses. “If we’re still open, it’s because of good luck, a kind customer base and government loans,” Branitz explained, but as concern about the pandemic lessens, business owners are facing “an unprecedented labor shortage and costs through the roof.”
Those costs are the result of continuing supply-chain issues as well as the inflation of the currency through quantitative easing directed by Federal Reserve governors, which trickles down to affect prices in the same way that global warming amplifies climate change. While the owner of a food truck would theoretically face both higher prices and scarce labor, Branitz observed that “in a truck you don’t have to pay rent every month.”
“I’d love to get a cute little thing from a hippie in a food truck,” Branitz added, “but will other things suffer?”
William Wheeler Murray, the trustee to advanced this idea, suggested later in the meeting that Branitz was not expressing a majority view by saying, “Many are supportive . . . some are not.” Murray suggested that scheduling a workshop once meetings may be attended in person may be a more effective way to discuss the question of if food trucks should be authorized at all, and what restrictions should be in the law if it is passed. During a workshop, the rules about when members of the public may participate tend to be relaxed, allowing for dialogue around a particular issue. Workshop meetings around the “good cause” tenant-protection laws proved to be more productive than the first public hearing held on that issue, but it’s not clear if that was due to the format, or because much of the rage had been expended during that hearing — which was also held in person.