By Frank Gormlie/OB Rag
New food truck regulations just passed by the City will prohibit them near the beach in Ocean Beach. In fact, the new law will not allow any food truck – unless on private property – from operating within 2 to 3 blocks of the beach. This will certainly bring smiles to restaurant owners in OB, but it is also bringing frowns to the mobile meal managers.
However, the new restrictions will not apply near the coastal communities until the California Coastal Commission weighs in and grants its approval
Yes, the City of San Diego finally took action to provide guidelines and new rules for the exploding gourmet food truck industry, on Monday, March 3rd, when the City Council approved an ordinance restricting their hours of operations, location prohibitions and permit requirements.
It was an effort to deal with the growing tension between the food truck operators and San Diego restaurants that feel their presence is unfair competition and with local residents who complain of their noise and commotion at night in their neighborhoods.
City Council President Todd Gloria stated in a press release:
“The ordinance is a fair approach to protect public health, safety and welfare while providing for mobile food truck operations on private property and in the public right-of-way, and I know food truck operators will benefit from having this clarity.”
Besides prohibiting the vendors from getting too close to beaches in OB, Mission Beach and PB, it also closed off the Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy to the trucks. Also, their operation past certain hours in dense urban neighborhoods will be restricted.
With a substantial tilt in favor of the truck operators, permits will not be required for industrially zoned land and commercial office parks. Otherwise, private property owners who wish to host a truck must obtain a permit, which has costs between $491 to $935 for each location.
Yet, food truck operators were less than thrilled with the new restrictions.
An owner of 2 trucks, Christian Murcia, told the U-T that he is weighing his options on whether to take legal action. He feels the new regulation:
that would prohibit food trucks from operating within 300 feet of a dwelling unit after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday. His and others’ late-night operations downtown and in other urban areas dominated by apartment and condo complexes would have to shut down, he said.
“We frequently park our truck in the Gaslamp, and a lot of these regulations inhibit our business,” he told the council. “The Gaslamp regulation is just a back-door way to protect the restaurants.”
Mucria also organizes food truck gatherings. When asked about the possibility of rules last month, Stuffed food truck owner Alex Gould said he and his spouse may be forced to relocate to another city if the restrictions become too harsh.
On the other side, Lynn McCoy, of Jolt’n Joe’s, which operates downtown told the media:
“It’s unfair to have food trucks anywhere close to a restaurant. There’s enough competition down here already without bringing the trucks in, who don’t pay the fees we do.”
Here is a list of the new restrictions (garnered from other media sources):
- The ordinance requires the food truck operators stick to set hours of operation while in residential areas. If the truck is within 300 feet of a home, it can serve between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
- If they pick a space with “limited on-street parking,” the trucks will be required to move to private property to preserve the vehicle spaces and avoid pedestrian-vehicle crashes.
- Operators are also required to clean 25 feet around their vehicle before serving.
- Food truck operators themselves are not required to get permits, and neither are schools, hospitals, religious facilities, construction sites or other industrial area property owners.
- Food trucks would be outlawed within eight blocks in the Gaslamp Quarter along Fifth Avenue and a six-block area of Little Italy.
- No food trucks would be allowed within the first two to three blocks adjacent to the beach in such communities as Ocean Beach, parts of Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla.
- A prohibition on food trucks within “parking-impacted neighborhoods” surrounding San Diego State, University of San Diego and UC San Diego.
- the trucks will not be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages, general merchandise or commercial services;
- no equipment aside from refuse containers will be allowed outside the trucks;
- no amplified music will be allowed; and
- pedestrian and vehicular traffic should not be impaired.
- Food trucks will not be allowed to operate between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, or 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday, within 300 feet of a residence. The regulations also set out how large the vehicles can be and how far away they need to park from intersections and schools.