In recent months, there has been growing debate in South Pasadena on the presence of gourmet food trucks at and by the during the .
The story first broke and came to my attention in an article on July 6th, 2011 entitled here on Patch.com. Since that time, there have been an overwhelming number of South Pasadena residents making comments in the feedback threads in support of the food trucks on all , including my recent on the subject. There are a few naysayers in the comments sections, but the majority seem to approve of their presence.
The problem that these mobile proprietors face is that the City Finance Department has issued them a business permit/license and the South Pasadena Police turn around and issue them a citation under an old city ordinance (section 19.49) that states "no person shall park a vehicle upon any roadway for the principal purpose of: (c) selling therefrom or therein any article, service or thing; provided, however, that any peddler or canvasser licensed under the provisions of Chapter 18 of this code may take orders or deliver any commodity from a vehicle on that part of any street immediately adjacent to the premises of any purchaser."
I see this as discriminatory and unfair to cite someone for operating a business that the city has licensed to operate in the city limits.
In doing further research on the subject for the City Council meeting on August 17th, I found that regulating public streets is a matter that is governed by state law. Any change of which would have to affect food trucks and all other vehicles alike. This leaves the City of South Pasadena only minor specific enforcement wiggle room, mostly regarding public safety issues.
Perhaps the strongest regulatory ammunition the City may have is the California Health and Safety Code Section 114315 that requires all stopped mobile food facilities conducting business for more than one hour to operate within 200 feet of an approved, readily available and fully functioning restroom facility. If the restroom is within a business, a food truck operator must have written permission from the business owner for use.
During my research, I also found that not only does this city code section conflict with the vehicle code, but it is in violation of the California Constitution as well. Article 11, Section 7 of the California Constitution states; “A county or city may make and enforce within its limits all local, police, sanitary and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with general laws.” Anyone that has been through a high school civics class can clearly see the problem here; this ordinance conflicts with the general laws of the State of California.
In fact, the City of Santa Monica has of food trucks for the same reasons I mention until a resolution with the vehicle code can be met.
The city must stop the harassment of these business owners who contribute just as much to our city as a “brick and mortar” business. They pay sales tax, a business license fee, income tax and wages to their employees (some of them local high school students).
With their thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers, these food trucks also draw business into the City. One of the trucks (Paradise Cookies) was even doing a fundraiser for our local school programs when the cited them. The police department should stop engaging in the unfair “taxation by citation” by not enforcing an antiquated and obsolete city code section.
These mobile proprietors are not breaking California law (laws that supersede and guide local authority) and are working just as hard as everyone else is to make a buck in this economy. If you don’t like the food trucks, don’t patronize them. A free market will tell whether the fad sticks or fades like so many others into the annals of history.
Mayor Ten has graciously motioned () for the food truck debate to be placed on the agenda for one of next month's City Council meetings. I hope to see all of you "foodies" out in support of repealing this ordinance, and I will post in the comments section the actual date it will be heard. Remember, government entities are our servants, not the other way around. If we want change, we need to fight for it.
If anyone would like to see exactly where I found all of these sections regarding vending from vehicles, take a look at Vehicle Code Sections 22455, 22456, 22500, 22520.5 and Health and Safety Code Section 114315 by following the imbedded hyperlinks in this post. Take the time, look them up and decide for yourself. This ordinance needs to be repealed before it costs us (the hard working taxpayers of South Pasadena) countless dollars in potential litigation.