Oakland Council Considers Renewing Food Truck Program

Oakland Council Considers Renewing Food Truck Program

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OAKLAND, CA - Oakland’s year old pilot permit program for mobile food trucks will come under review Tuesday as city council considers renewing the policy.

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Lydia Chow/Flickr

The experimental program allows food trucks to sell in designated areas during normal business hours. The project is set to expire January 2013. The seven permitted sites for trucks include Snow Park, Bites off of Broadway and Splash Pad Park.

The updated policy was in response to pressure from Oakland’s food truck businesses.

According to a report to council, more time is needed to work on developing a permanent solution.

“Due to the complex nature of regulating mobile food vending inside and outside the public right-of-way, involving coordination across several city departments, it will not be possible to adopt new citywide regulations prior to the expiration of the current interim group site regulations,” the report notes.

That report also include results from a survey about the permit program.

While food truck vendors mostly liked the new program, results were mixed among brick and mortar businesses operating nearby. Restaurant owners, in particular, were upset about the food trucks.

In 2012, Oakland issued nine vehicular food vending permits and 17 pushcart permits. City staff said it expects to bring proposals for a permanent citywide mobile food program before the Council’s community economic development subcommittee in early 2013.

With the growth of food truck vendors, new scrutiny also is coming from county food inspectors.

The Alameda County Environmental Health Department is about to step up its enforcement efforts with the addition of three new inspectors. The new employees are expected to help provide additional examinations of food trucks and restaurants. The new inspectors will come aboard in January.

All food trucks and restaurants must get inspected by the county to operate. County officials said the goal is to increase inspections from an annual visit to three times a year.

“The number of mobile food units is increasing and that’s why we are hiring three additional people,” Don Atkinson-Adams, supervisor of the Alameda County Environmental Health Specialist division, said. Currently, there are 350 mobile food trucks in the county.

“I’ve been asking for more inspectors for 15 years,” he said.

Atkinson-Adams said that county inspectors look at a number of items when they are checking mobile food trucks.

“We’re examining whether (food trucks) keep their food safe,” he said. “We look at whether they are keeping the food at a proper temperature. We’re also looking at other things like inadequate hand washing by employees.”

Inspectors take into account the types of food being served by the trucks.

“Each place can be different and we definitely pay attention to what’s on the menu,” Atkinson-Adams said. “Different food means different equipment.”

Find the original article by Jennifer Inez Ward at Oakland Local <here>

 

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