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Code enforcement officers in San Diego have been busy serving up a wide assortment of citations to food trucks throughout the City ever since city councilmembers agreed to tighten the rules governing the operation of food trucks during a December 12 council hearing.

In response, a group of food truck operators have joined together and filed a lawsuit against the City in the San Diego County Superior Court.

The lawsuit, filed by the "United Association of Food Trucks of San Diego California", claims the City is trying to chase food trucks out of the City by handing out citations ranging from $500 to $1,000 on both public and private property, and telling the operators that food trucks are not allowed in the City.

According to City code, approved by city councilmembers at the hearing in December, food trucks must now abide by state and county requirements in regards to the handling of food and retail food facilities. The operators are also now required to conform to the County's new letter grading system.

"The City Council hereby finds and declares that the unrestricted sale or distribution or the offering for sale or distribution of food, beverages, merchandise or services from vehicles or mobile food units within or upon public streets, sidewalks and rights of way, public property or in the vicinity of school buildings, under certain circumstances, constitutes a danger to public safety because of the likelihood of injury to pedestrians thereby exposed to hazards from other vehicular traffic in the vicinity," reads the new law.

It goes on to say that private commercial enterprises should not be allowed to operate on public property, especially not when not in conformance "with health, safety, zoning and land use regulation is contrary to the public welfare."

But food truck operators involved in the lawsuit allege that the City's Neighborhood Code Compliance department are reading between the lines of the new law and is targeting food trucks that are operating on private property with the consent of the property owner.

As for operations on private property, so long as the food truck operator has the owner's permission and is otherwise compliant with the applicable health and safety regulations, nothing in Municipal Code section 54.1022 should operate to restrict food truck operations on private property.

In particular, the unsupported policy which restricts food trucks from operating for more than 3 hours in any 24-hour period. Consequently, this policy is burdensome, arbitrary, harassing and prejudicial to the Petitioner, its members and all food trucks within the City.

The Petition and its members have exhausted all possible administrative remedies and are now forced to resort to the instant petition. The Petitioner and its members have a substantial right to continue their operations without fear of unjustified and baseless persecution. Should the City's citation efforts in this manner not cease, the Petitioner and its members will suffer irreparable harm through the evisceration of their businesses and livelihood, harm which money damages cannot cure.

Read the lawsuit here:


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