April 2, 2015

Austin BBQ to potentially face new rules

A proposal could affect Austin BBQ restaurants.

A proposal could affect Austin BBQ restaurants.

No laws currently exist in Austin, Texas, that force restaurants to cut their smoke emissions. But new legislation, if passed, could affect the restaurants various Austin culinary arts students move onto after completing their education.

District 3 City Council member Sabino Renteria has proposed the legislation that would require restaurants and mobile vendors to install smoke scrubbers to comply with the proposal, should it become law. The original proposal sought to target restaurants and mobile vendors within 150 feet of residential property. But on March 31, Renteria enacted some changes.

The new proposal states that vendors who utilize a wood or charcoal burning stove or grill located within 100 feet of the nearest residential-zoned property line would have to take action to reduce emissions. Restaurants and mobile vendors that use gas-powered grills or stoves are excluded, as long as no significant amount of smoke is emitted.

The biggest critics are owners of some Austin’s most liked barbecue establishments. They fear that costs to upgrade or install the equipment could be anywhere between $15,000-$20,000, according to Austin Eater. They also argue the food would change because the proposal would dictate how a cooker smokes.

Some also believe the city should deal with complaints on an individual basis, as various establishments say they have yet to receive any complaints from nearby residents.