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S.B. COUNTY: Food trucks get limited OK to operate

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SAN BERNARDINO, CA - Food trucks will get a chance to bring their cuisine to San Bernardino County on a limited basis.

The Board of Supervisors agreed unanimously Tuesday to allow food trucks to operate under permit at specific events but rejected — on a 2-3 vote — allowing them to roam the streets as they do in other counties.

Supervisor Janice Rutherford supported allowing food trucks to operate county-wide but said the compromise was a good first step that would let health inspectors get accustomed to regulating the industry.

“Maybe after we can get our feet wet with that, we can lift our ban completely,” she said.

The food truck business has become increasingly popular in many cities over the past few years, with vendors selling more sophisticated gourmet fare.

But San Bernardino and Riverside are the only two counties in the state that prohibit food trucks, said Terri Williams, San Bernardino County’s chief of environmental health services.

The two counties limit food trucks to selling only drinks and pre-packaged foods, such as ice cream. Hot, freshly prepared foods can be sold only at community-sponsored events at specific locations, such as a festival.

The proposed regulation would allow for a broader expansion of permitted events. For example, businesses could invite food trucks to their offices to provide lunch for employees or trucks could gather at one particular city block one day a week.

The county’s environmental health services department will return to the board with the final ordinance at a future meeting. The rules will apply county-wide but individual cities and towns can impose their own requirements.

Jeff Smith, who owns the Texifornia Tamale Company in Blue Jay, was one of about a dozen speakers who supported allowing food trucks to operate in the county. He said it would give him the chance to expand his restaurant business.

“We are being locked out of a trend,” Smith said. “The avante garde of what’s happening in the food industry is happening on these food trucks.”

Supervisor Brad Mitzelfelt was the only other board member backing Rutherford in allowing food trucks to operate on the roads, calling the compromise “too restrictive.”

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