Next week, February 12, a council committee is set to discuss new regulations governing food trucks in San Diego.
The proposed regulations would essentially ban truck operators from pulling up in San Diego's busiest entertainment areas, such as the Gaslamp, Little Italy, and portions of Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, La Jolla, and around San Diego's universities.
Also, service hours would be restricted between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. on weekdays, closing at 11p.m. on Friday and Saturday night. Trucks will have to stay 500 feet away from residential units.
Trimming down owners’ access to the public isn't the only potential impact for food truckers. The proposed ordinance requires commercial property owners obtain expensive permits in order to have trucks onsite.
Hoping to alter the ordinance, food-truck owners are calling on their customers to contact councilmembers and urge them to adopt a less-stringent policy.
"These rules are anti-competitive and discriminatory to small-business owners," writes Christian Murcia of Curbside Bites. "There are numerous other drafted rules addressing public safety, such as the size of trucks, encroachment, and [making sure there is] four feet of clearance on sidewalk, so this does nothing to further safety; it is a clear case of economic protectionism. It is unfair to the consumer that the city is protecting special small-interest groups — namely, restaurants, when everyone else wants us in these area. They are choosing to limit the options of consumers. The [interim] mayor has said that he wants to make the city more pedestrian-friendly — this is a great way to encourage pedestrians….”
Murcia and his fellow food-truckers are asking customers to show support at the February 12 meeting. The hearing is one of many obstacles that food-truck owners have run into over the course of the past year.
Things seemed to be on the up and up when former mayor Bob Filner directed the city's code-enforcement unit to refrain from issuing citations against truck owners while the city forged ahead with drafting a formal policy. That changed when [acting mayor Todd Gloria took office]. It was then that Gloria announced he planned to increase enforcement on food trucks.
Around the same time, Murcia says the tone in the meetings began to change and more emphasis was given to local business-improvement districts and the restaurant association. This, despite a pledge to pay into the business districts as well as pick up litter and work with the community.
"[The proposed ordinance] is anti-competitive and discriminatory to enforce rules on food trucks that do not apply to other businesses in adjacent areas,” says Murcia. “Consumers are wanting us to be out during these hours because of the lack of food options available. Other rules already regulate concerns related to public safety; this does not do anything to further it. Hours of operation should be regulated by the existing limitations that a zone allows for the surrounds businesses."
In October of last year, food-truck operators posted an [online] petition, which reads:
"Unfortunately, since Interim Mayor Todd Gloria took office, the City has decided to turn its back on their previous promise and shut down small businesses run by San Diego locals and minorities who operate food trucks throughout the city. We believe the city needs to be held accountable to their promise and needs to stop trying to destroy an industry that consumers love. Rather, we ask that they support local small business growth in San Diego. We believe consumers have a right to eat the food they love... From gourmet food trucks you've seen on your favorite Food Network shows to your favorite taco truck, we need your support to keep serving local fresh food."
In the four months it has been online, more than 3200 people have pledged their support.
The council committee is set to hear the item on February 12 at 2 p.m.
(revised 2/6, 2:05 p.m.)