Riverside, California still imposes some of the most strict regulations for food trucks in the state, and a newly elected Supervisor aims to change that. Supervisor Kevin Jeffries, who campaigned on a promise to “Free the Food Trucks,” wants to change the county’s regulations so the public doesn’t have to go to festivals to enjoy freshly prepared food on wheels.
Riverside County’s food truck rules are among California’s strictest. Right now, they’re allowed only if they sell pre-packaged foods or are like the hot dog carts outside the County Administrative Center and courthouses in downtown Riverside. Food truck operators are allowed to prepare and cook raw food only during special events where the trucks can be inspected.
According to Supervisor Benoit, over 1500 events involving food trucks took place in 2012. Lynne Wilder, program chief for the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health, said her department would be willing to revisit the food truck rules, provided health and safety issues are addressed. Apparently, the current food truck restriction stem from food poisoning and injury incidents which occurred in the 1980′s, and some people feel it’s high time for change.
Angela Janus, executive director of ShareKitchen, a Cathedral City nonprofit organization that provides start-up space for aspiring restaurateurs, said she got involved in the effort to ease food truck restrictions after hearing from clients who wanted to start their businesses by running food trucks.
“For us, it’s a great steppingstone for entrepreneurs to step into a truck and eventually a restaurant,” she said.
Chad Gardner of Dash and a Handful Catering in Cathedral City said a food truck would help his business. A truck, he said, would make it easier to cater events, or he could park it somewhere and sell his food.
Of course, the California Restaurant Association has voiced concern, citing previous complaints by bricks and mortar restaurant owners who claim that food trucks bring unfair competition, because they don’t have the overhead that comes with a building. However, many of these restaurant owners now own food trucks of their own, and feel that food trucks should be allowed to roam the streets of Riverside.
Matt Geller, CEO of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association told the Press Enterprise, “We don’t see food trucks parking in front of restaurants because it’s just bad business. They’re going to want to go to a place where (people are) under-served.”
Despite food truck operators’ willingness to work with County officials to positively change the outdated ordinances, there is no timetable for when food truck rule changes might go to the Board of Supervisors.
“Small business really drives our country,” Janus said. “This is just another opportunity to support small business.”
Read the entire story at the Press Enterprise: http://www.pe.com/local-news/politics/jeff-horseman-headlines/20130118-riverside-county-free-the-food-trucks-advocates-say.ece