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Matt Geller

Matt Geller Food Trucks
Monica Almeida/The New York Times

LOS ANGELES, CA – Sitting on his sofa in the Venice section of this city, Matt Geller let out an exasperated sigh as he spoke to a familiar official from the county health department. Food trucks represented by Mr. Geller’s group, the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, had been caught dumping waste water down storm drains. “That’s absolutely disgusting,” he said. “A state, federal and county violation.”

Armed with his phone, a law degree and a garage packed with boxes containing health and vehicle codes, Mr. Geller has established himself as a voice for the nation’s food truck movement. Through lawsuits and advocacy, he has written the playbook for how independent owners leverage their popularity to shape laws in their favor. That includes adhering to codes on waste water and collaborating with the city agencies that were once his adversaries.

Mr. Geller is a bit to food trucks as Cesar Chavez was to farm workers, though he has been criticized as being more concerned about the purveyors of bacon-topped cupcakes than about the immigrant small-business owners selling traditional tacos and pupusas.

Last month, he expanded his reach, founding the National Food Truck Association, an umbrella group he hopes will unify thousands of independent food trucks and dozens of local associations (he already has 10, including those in New York, Philadelphia and Baton Rouge, La.). If the group gains a foothold, it will signify the rapid evolution of the business from a quirky fad to a national industry with an estimated $1 billion in annual revenue and a growing political voice.

Find the entire article at The New York Times <here>

SoCalMFVA LogoOver the past three years the SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association has assisted 11 other food truck associations form.  They have provided guidance, bylaws and help with 501(c)(6) filings for non profit status.  They do this because they believe that strong advocacy nationwide furthers their cause in California and because they believe that everyone deserves a voice.

They’re expanding their initiative to help fledgling food truck associations.  If you need help creating or organizing a new food truck association, email them and they’ll do their best to help out.

The first step in getting an association together is getting the relevant parties (truck owners) into a room to discuss the issues.  The first meeting should be used to identify the most important issues facing the industry in your area. Create a list in order of importance.  Typically lists include: bans, time limit restrictions, street vending restrictions, private property bans, etc. Once the list is together a strategy can be developed to achieve your goals.

They will help you every step of the way.

You can find their site at: http://socalmfva.com/

Email: socalmfva(at)gmail.com

Twitter: @SoCalMFVA

About the Southern California Food Vendors Association: We are a group of small business entrepreneurs who have set about changing the food landscape in Southern California by providing a diverse and eclectic variety of high quality food at an affordable price, from a mobile platform.  The SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association was the first food truck advocacy organization in the new gourmet food truck industry.


It seems like every day I read another article about a city somewhere in the United States that has decided that their constituents needs are best served by limiting competition.  It always starts off with a mayor, or a city council person proclaiming that they have to protect local restaurants from competition.  Maybe they should start protecting their constituents from businesses that don’t want to compete for their dollar.  When a city decides that they want two segments of the food service industry to negotiate how best to split the consumer dollar, they are doing their city a disservice.   This type of negotiation is usually called “compromise” by city officials, but to the average consumer it looks more like collusion.  A city government should not tell it’s citizenry how and where they should spend their money.

In 1979 a California appellate court ruled; “ we conclude that section 80.73(b) 2A(2)(bb) (100 foot buffer zone) is a “rather naked restraint of trade,” and determine that it is “ . . . arbitrarily made for the mere purpose of classification.”  In other words, the court found that the 100 foot buffer zone was unconstitutional.  Regulations must be made to serve the public good.  A city must show that there is a rational basis for the regulation.  Restricting competition does not serve the public good.

Find the entire article by Matt Geller (CEO SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association) <here>

LOS ANGELES, CA – The thousands of people working in the commercial high-rises along Wilshire Boulevard in the Miracle Mile district are going to have fewer lunch options now that the L.A. City Council approved a measure Wednesday that will restrict food truck parking, according to a news source.

wilshire food trucksAnyone who’s driven down Wilshire Boulevard near LACMA has noticed that the south side of the street is filled with food trucks dishing out ethnic eats and American fare.

These food trucks have been a bane to restaurant owners in the area, who say it’s unfair these mobile eateries are siphoning off business from “’brick and mortar’ restaurants that are heavily taxed and regulated,” the Park Labrea News and Beverly Press newspaper reported.

L.A. City Council members said they’re concerned about safety. Councilman Tom LaBonge, who penned the ordinance, said it restricts parking for oversized trucks to increase visibility for drivers in the area.

Council members unanimously approved the measure Wednesday, which stated, “trucks that are larger than 22 feet long and seven feet high are prohibited from parking in spaces with oversized vehicle restrictions along Wilshire between Fairfax and La Brea avenues from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.”

Oversized trucks will lose as many as 20 spots on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, but will still have as many as 20 spots leftover. Oversized vehicles won’t be able to park between Orange Grove Avenue and Ogden Drive, or between Curson and Masselin avenues.

“It makes the street safer for everyone,” LaBonge reportedly said during the meeting. “It’s the safety that I’m concerned about, and I think it works it out.”

While the ordinance impacts any oversized vehicle, Matt Geller, CEO of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, said it was aimed at the food trucks along Wilshire Boulevard.

He said the trucks do not block visibility, and that officials have “clearly” not shown that the trucks pose a public safety issue. Geller said the city simply doesn’t want to work with food trucks.

“We’ve tried to work with Councilman Tom LaBonge’s office, but we’ve been shot down multiple times,” he said, referencing the city of Santa Monica, which created food truck restrictions by working with the area vendors. “The real losers are all the consumers. This is just really short-sighted.”

Geller said there are plenty of vendors with trailers or carts that would fall under the size restrictions. Those vendors may flourish under the new restrictions, but demand will spike for the spots along Wilshire Boulevard and consumers will have fewer menu options when dining at the trucks, he said.

“This clearly doesn’t work for everybody,” Geller said, adding that there were no studies conducted to further identify any issues.

On Wilshire, food trucks tend to congregate near LACMA, between Fairfax and Curson avenues. In that area, oversized trucks will lose as many as 20 spots on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, while retaining as many as 20. There will be no parking for oversized vehicles from Orange Grove Avenue to Ogden Drive, and between Curson and Masselin avenues.

LaBonge said he worked with the city’s Department of Transportation to create the ordinance. He said the department will post notices about the restrictions before enforcing them within 30 days.

“There’s room for everybody,” LaBonge said.


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