City officials in Del Mar, California recently told food truck operators, “You’re not welcome here,” at least for 45 days. After receiving multiple complaints, city officials placed a moratorium on food trucks, while they debate some specially crafted food truck regulations.
Called an “urgency ordinance,” the temporary ban will allow City Council time to hammer out some new food truck regulations which could include new fees for food truck operators.
“This is a very short window so that we can prepare an ordinance, not necessarily to ban them (food trucks),” said Councilman Mark Filanc. “The idea is we have a lot of issues such as noise, light, parking, trash and restroom facilities, which to me are safety and health issues, that need to get resolved before we expand the use of this.”
Despite the economic benefits the city has already realized since allowing food trucks on the streets, City Council enlisted City Planning and Community Development Director Kathy Garcia to scour existing food truck ordinances. Garcia said, “We don’t know what the ordinance will end up addressing at this point, but several issues they want us to analyze in more depth will be taken into consideration.”
Issues on the table include pedestrian safety, food truck days and hours of operation, noise, lighting, parking availability, trash, recycling and restroom access.
The emergency ban on food trucks came as the result of highly vocal complaints by bricks and mortar restaurant owners in Del Mar who claimed that the food trucks are unfair to competition, then suggested that Council must act urgently, because food trucks are not clean, and generate noise.
The emergency ban prompted neighboring Escondido to reconsider lifting its own ban on food trucks.
Christian Murcia, owner of Curbside Bites said if the ordinance is seen as a ban on food trucks and not as a legitimate attempt to address public safety issues, litigation from the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association could ensue.
“This is a good opportunity for us to work cooperatively with them to help them address public safety,” said Matt Geller, president of the food vendor association. “When we see a situation where people try to jump in to regulate competition, that’s when we’ll take the litigation route,” he said. “We have a responsibility to our membership to make sure their ability to compete isn’t stunted.”
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