Sunday, October 24, 2021

Restaurants lobby for swipe at NYC delivery laws

Image copyright AFP Image caption The lawsuit claims the city has implemented “strict curbs” on delivery businesses

Restaurants are lobbying a New York court to reject a lawsuit by delivery startups, asking it to rule that the city must cap delivery fees.

The cuts have sent some startups out of business and forced more into town centres and airports, New York’s rules state.

But the city argues it has no jurisdiction over businesses that are already outside the so-called delivery zones.

As a result, the city must ask a judge to dismiss the case.

Commercial rent and delivery service Blue Apron is a defendant. The group of restaurants, which include Michelin-starred restaurants, along with several food delivery businesses, argue that the city’s rules for delivery are among the most onerous they have ever seen.

On Monday, a judge is set to hear their argument.

The issue of how best to regulate the delivery industry has been a key part of the New York debate since the rise of Uber and its rivals.

Food delivery services are legally bound to adhere to the rules set down by the city’s Zoning Board for Commerce, known as the ZBC.

These rules, which came into effect in 2014, lower fees for restaurants within zones.

These zones are the most densely populated parts of the city – areas which have heavy traffic and rely heavily on delivery services.

“This is a disingenuous lawsuit,” Christine Quinn, a Democrat who was formerly New York City mayor, told Reuters.

“New York City is preventing this illegal service from cutting into delivery businesses that are struggling,” she added.

Image copyright ANADOLU AGENCY Image caption New York City is home to 45,000 home delivery shops

In court filings, the city argued that its jurisdiction did not include any businesses that were not considered delivery firms within the zones.

“The law serves to distinguish between delivery firms with a core delivery business that is engaged in delivery of perishable food items from private residences, and others that are not delivering food or only shipping to persons who are associated with private residences,” the city’s lawyers said.

Restaurants argue that the law does not apply to “virtual businesses” such as Blue Apron, as the company has only one package that it packages and delivers.

It is almost impossible for a delivery company to have enough deliveries made to be licensed as a delivery company under city rules, lawyers for restaurants said.

The case also highlights the role of the UberEats, Deliveroo and Amazon Restaurants app as one of the reasons why many of these businesses can survive in New York.

Having delivered over 170 million meals in New York, these companies found themselves constantly facing new regulations aimed at curbing the growth of the industry.

Amazon, however, successfully came out in favour of one of the city’s most notable regulations – the property-control law known as Mitchell-Lama.

Image copyright AFP Image caption In April, the number of eateries in New York City was more than 3,000, according to government figures

In April, a prominent New York real estate developer, Donald Trump, which has holdings in the West Village and the Upper West Side in Manhattan, successfully blocked a city ordinance that would have restricted large apartment complexes that compete with food delivery businesses.

The law has been seen as a test case that will determine whether the city can effectively regulate so-called delivery-only companies, lawyers involved in the case said.

The Supreme Court ruled in March in favour of a hotel in the West Village that did not want to rent out its rooms to UberEats, Deliveroo and other services, citing concerns of a lack of safety and safety standards as well as high administrative costs.

If the legal challenge by the restaurant group fails, it is likely that more closures will come as restaurants try to fight back against the deep-pocketed tech companies with deep pockets.

In January, Uber and its Australian counterpart, UberEats, closed several hundred restaurants in New York due to a lack of foot traffic.

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