PALM DESERT, CA — The City Council is poised to adopt the area’s first city ordinance regulating food trucks outside of special events Thursday, and a buffer between the trucks and existing restaurants has drawn criticism from the leader of a food vending group.
The proposed ordinance contains a 750-foot buffer between food trucks and any established restaurant or bar unless the truck is part of a certified farmer’s market, and park concession stands were added to the requirement at the law’s first reading before the council Feb. 27.
At that meeting Mayor Van Tanner, who coached youth sports for years, pointed out concession sales are a major fundraiser for many leagues.
Talking about the possibility of food trucks parking at Palm Desert Civic Center Park, Tanner said, “They would be competing with Palm Desert Youth Sports for money, and that’s something very special, and the same thing would be happening at Hovley Park,” Tanner said.
Community Development Director Lauri Alyaian told the council the 750-foot radius eliminates large portions of El Paseo and Highway 111 from being served by the trucks on a daily basis: It cuts a large swath around our existing businesses,” she said.
Matt Geller, CEO of the SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association, said such buffers are usually thrown out when challenged, citing a 1979 state appellate court case, and said citizens generally don’t stand for such limits if the city tries to impose them.
“They basically say, ‘How dare you? How dare you tell me where I can eat?’ ” Geller said Wednesday morning, adding that he planned to contact Palm Desert officials later in the day.
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