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How Should The City Revise Its Food Truck Law?

The city is in talks with the SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association to create a food truck law that falls in line with state law. This means the ban will be lifted but regulations will be created. Thoughts?

Should food trucks be allowed to park in town? 

California Vehicle Code says yes, and South Pas will soon be in compliance after a related lawsuit, according to officials. 

South Pasadena City Council passed a motion in November 2011 stating food trucks will no longer be cited for selling food out of a parked vehicle, yet the ban was never officially lifted from its municipal code. 

Why hasn't it been changed? City Manager Sergio Gonzalez says: "There has [been] a tremendous drop in the number of food trucks [since November 2011]. But recent acts have brought it back to the front burner."

The SoCal Mobile Food Vendor's Association filed a lawsuit against South Pasadena in August noting that the city's law is contradictory to state law. 

"South Pas has a ban. They've known it's been illegal since at least last year, yet they still have on their books," said attorney Kevin Behrendt, representing the food truck coalition. 

Behrendt's firm has been in talks with the city and hopes that they can reach a comprehensive regulatory scheme to replace the ban. This may include any regulation related to public safetey—but not compensation or aesthestics—he says. 

Gonzalez told Patch a working group comprised of South Pas Chamber of Commerce members, local business owners and city staff has already been created and are responsible for building reasonable guidelines and regulations suitable to both food trucks vendors and local restaurant owners.

The two parties coexisting is a "careful balance," notes Gonzalez.

Chamber of Commerce President Scott Feldmann has long argued that food trucks should be allowed on a limited basis only for events and fundraisers.

The issue will be brought forth at the City Council meeting October 17 where city staff will recommend that the ban be rescinded. 

Patch Asks: What do you think? What public safety requirements should be included in the city's new food truck law? Should the vendors be allowed to park near schools? Parks? Let us know in comments below!  

Joanne Nuckols October 10, 2012 at 01:40 PM
The City Should look into having a designated parking spot in a specific area in town, away from local restaurants, where all the food trucks could park together. Portland has a very successful food truck "vacant lot" where the mobile trucks have a permanent parking space and they are all together.
Emmanuel October 10, 2012 at 02:50 PM
I agree with Joanne, designate an area for food trucks. But honestly, I don't care where they park! Food trucks are like any eating establishment in my opinion, you can choose to patronize them or not! People know what they get when they buy from a food truck. Restaurants should focus more on improving their menus, restaurant ambiance and customer service rather than fighting the food trucks. Because you can go to a restaurant and have such a bad experience that you wish you had gone to a food truck instead sometimes -am I lying? Let people choose where they want to eat and focus on making the customer's experience as best as possible.
Jones Foyer October 10, 2012 at 04:20 PM
Safety: food trucks of course have to have their current license and health inspection papers. Community: food trucks shouldn't be able to operate past a given reasonable time, say 10 or 11PM. Accessbility: limited designated parking area for operation, perhaps on Mission
Jones Foyer October 10, 2012 at 04:22 PM
" But honestly, I don't care where they park!" Well, parking them in front of residences on El Centro is not a good thing for the homeowners. People queuing up are likely to create a noise issue, trample lawns, etc. This is why you need to be specific about where they are allowed to operate.
Kaleb October 10, 2012 at 04:35 PM
The fact is, if I am going to patronize a restaurant, whether Hi Life or Mike & Anne's, I am aiming to sit down to eat at an establishment. If I am going to eat off a food truck, it is more informal than Hi Life used to be 30 years ago. I might eat near the truck or bring it home but it isn't the same setting as a sit down restaurant. It isn't a competition between a truck and a restaurant, they are entities that can compete in their own categories and survive if they have a good product. I do not have a financial interest in any restaurant or truck, I am merely a consumer. I've seen restaurants come and go in SoPas for decades, I've patronized trucks when they were nothing more than mobile fried food machines. My only concern about trucks is that they be located in a space with enough safe parking for patrons. Pavilion's/Von's parking lot, next to Garfield Park, school parking lots, church parking lots, at the Arroyo fields, the OSH parking lot, in a cul-de-sac, all fine places & the occasional curb parking. I don't think they need to park in front of Gus's front door, unless Fair Oaks is shut down for a street fair that they are part of, but that is hard to legislate. Let the trucks come, issue permits that allow the town to reap some of the benefit and let restaurants offer their sit-down options for more conventional dining. Come into this century SoPas, we need stimulus, not blockades.
John Q. Public October 10, 2012 at 04:37 PM
The city cannot "designate an area" for food trucks. The vehicle code clearly states that they can park wherever they want as long as they are stopped in accordance with the "safe stopping" provisions of the vehicle code. They must also be 100 or 200 feet from a working restroom if parked longer than 1 hour.
George Y October 10, 2012 at 04:41 PM
I'd like to see strict parking enforcement of food trucks and any other mobile vendor. In addition it would be great for such food truck areas can be established. In such areas food trucks would not be forced to continuously relocate if that's what they desired.
Jones Foyer October 10, 2012 at 04:58 PM
"John Q. Public: The city cannot "designate an area" for food trucks. The vehicle code clearly states that they can park wherever they want as long as they are stopped in accordance with the "safe stopping" provisions of the vehicle code." While the vehicle can park wherever it likes, the city most certainly CAN determine where they can legally do business. Why wouldn't they be able to do that?
John Q. Public October 10, 2012 at 05:07 PM
California VC 22455 specifically allows for vending from a vehicle on a PUBLIC STREET if they meet VC 22500 subsections and H&S 114315. If they are in compliance with the vehicle code provisions and not breaking California H&S law if they move spots every hour or park within 200 feet of a working bathroom, there is nothing the city can do. Last I knew from HS Civics is that PUBLIC STREET means anywhere they want. There is no provision in the vehicle code that allows for designating areas that they can stop other than being within 100 feet of a freeway on/off ramp.
LalaP October 10, 2012 at 05:33 PM
If I want to go to a restaurant a food truck will not stop me, If I want fast food I will go get fast food, if I want to try a food truck I will go to a truck. Let them park! I think South Pasadena is a great area for food trucks to park and give people a choice. I read earlier that the owner of the pharmacy on fair oaks said it takes away from the business but I honestly have never eaten anything at the pharmacy except for ice cream I find the prices way too high for the quality of the food you receive. Although I do see plenty of people there all the time if people like your food they will go eat your food just because a new place opens up doesn't mean you will go out of business if your product is good and not overpriced. Do food trucks have to pay any kind of fees or taxes to the specific cities they park in?
Ron Rosen October 11, 2012 at 04:28 AM
Although the VC allows vending from a public street, that would not prevent the City from having a designated area where food trucks would be encouraged to gather at particular times. Many places have food-truck meet-ups, which the food trucks seem to like participating in.
Justanotheropinion October 11, 2012 at 07:06 AM
@Kaleb: "It isn't a competition between a truck and a restaurant, they are entities that can compete in their own categories and survive if they have a good product." That my friend is at the heart of this.
Justanotheropinion October 11, 2012 at 07:16 AM
"Can't we all get along?"... The food trucks have as much business in So. Pas as the other businesses. Why only for 'special events' as the Chamber suggests? If business is dropping, maybe it's not the food trucks.... Mama's Brick Oven (quoted in Pas Sun article: “Food trucks are really value-added in the right markets and underserved communities. But from my perspective, it doesn’t seem equitable to have one of them pull right up in front of a bricks-and-mortar [restaurant].”) - so because we are not an 'underserved community', consumers don't deserve a food choice? It's a consumers dream to have new options. I realize So. Pas eateries may baulk as they are afraid of losing business. Might be a good oppty for you to hand out free bites to entice new customers while they are waiting for their order from the truck or welcome the new oppty. & customers that food trucks bring to the area. I agree that the truck should not impeed traffic or cause a safety issue. I agree it is "rude" to park a food truck directly in front of a restaurant (or within a few doors). I haven't seen that yet, but some say it has happened. Residents of So. Pas deserve to have the oppty. to have other food choices every now and again. We will always frequent our favorite local haunts, but variety is sorely needed instead of the same places in town. What happened to So Pas welcoming new businesses? Seems like that only applies as long as the new business doesn't compete with yours. Sad.
BD October 12, 2012 at 10:09 PM
This is not about liking or disliking food trucks, not at the moment anyways. This is about the city taking fees to allow a buisiness, food truck companys, to legally operate within the city. Only then to have them operate within the city and cite them for operating. Everything was fine until a resident uncovered a VERY old and obsolete city law that does not allow any person to sell for profit or provide services from a parked vehicle on city streets. When the police were notified they had to enforce a law that is on our books. Problem is we legally gave operating permits to the food truck owners and then fined them every time they parked to do buisiness. Ethically it is wrong and it does not take a genius to see the flaw. Since the city has taken their sweet time on this they are now entering a potential costly litigation process, which they will not win. I don't recall the Chamber objecting on Subways behalf by having Jersey Mikes go in across the street. Why is it ok to have vendors sell peanuts, oranges, cherries, flowers, etc. on Huntington Dr. and Fair Oaks? How about less than 100 feet from a freeway on/off ramp. These people DO NOT have a buisiness license to sell in SP but the Mayor, his council and SPPD drive by these folks all the time. The city was warned that they would be sued over this and they did not take it seriously...Once again the city screws up and we pay for it, literally.

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