North County Cities Discuss How to Handle Food Truck Growth
COAST CITIES, CA - Food trucks are gaining momentum across North County, but one question looms: How will cities handle the trend?
The first regular food truck gatherings have rolled into Encinitas and Del Mar, with the possibility of similar events in Solana Beach, Carlsbad and Oceanside in the next several months. Yet most of the North County cities’ municipal codes are vague or don’t specifically address food trucks at all.
That contrasts further south in San Diego proper, where food trucks have been a staple in many of the cities for years. Accordingly, codes and ordinances in those neighborhoods are more likely to spell out the rules for mobile vendors.
“The food trucks are unprecedented for us,” said outgoing Del Mar Mayor Carl Hilliard.
Food trucks began setting up on the Seagrove parking lot every Wednesday night for a three-hour event. In response to concerns over design requirements and whether the food trucks posed a threat to existing businesses, the Council called for a staff report, which will be released at a Nov. 19 Council meeting to gauge the pros and cons of the event.
The food trucks aren’t breaking any rules, but the staff report was necessary to determine the impact of gourmet food trucks, because existing city code pre-dates their arrival, Hilliard said.
“There’s certainly some grey area we need to figure out,” said Hilliard, adding that he’ll have a better idea of what the city should do once the staff report sees the light of day.
Ambiguities in city code haven’t deterred food trucks from making their way up the coast.
“The food trucks that appear in North County are based in San Diego,” said Christian Murcia, owner of the food truck Crepes Bonaparte. “That’s their home market and where they park — where the infrastructure to support the food trucks is. The scene is more established there.”
Food trucks have proliferated in San Diego proper in recent years. As such, competition has increased in many neighborhoods. So food trucks ventured north to claim untapped markets in Del Mar and Encinitas.
Although not there currently, he said food truck owners would like to hold regular events in Carlsbad and Oceanside.
The food truck expansion has drawn the ire of some brick-and-mortar restaurants. In Encinitas more than 20 restaurants signed a letter in September addressed to the Downtown Encinitas Merchants Association expressing their concerns about the weekly food truck gathering. For his part, Murcia cautioned against cities imposing regulations on where and when food trucks can set up.
“Regulations on food trucks are nothing new, but cities find they’re costly and fail,” Murcia said, referencing food truck bans or limits in other California cities that were eventually overruled by sections of the California Vehicle Code, and a state law from 1984 forbidding cities from outlawing mobile food vendors.
“We should focus on collaboration, not elimination,” he added.
Click the link to read the entire article about how these North County cities plan to legislate the growing number of food trucks coming to their municipalities by Jared Whitlock at thecoastnews.com.