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San Diego

A new study done by students at San Diego State University show Interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s justification for food truck rules don’t hold up and will likely be unenforceable.

missed target

Over this last weekend, students from SDSU did a field study on some of the more controversial proposed food truck regulations to be voted on next Monday, March 3rd in City Council.

The proposed rules that were analyzed include:

  • Ban on food truck operating on private property and the on the street in Gaslamp (157.0304)
  • Limit on hours of operation for food trucks when within 500 ft of any dwelling unit (141.0612.A.11)
  • Commercial & Residential property owners looking to host food trucks must obtain a Mobile Food Permit. (123.0602)

The results of the study answered the following questions:

  • Is there a public safety concern for pedestrians when a food truck is parked on the street in the Gaslamp Quarter of Downtown San Diego?
  • To what degree does a food truck increase the ambient noise level when operating between the hours of 11PM-2AM and how far does the noise travel with relation to the surrounding areas?
  • Approximately how many locations will be required to obtain a mobile food permit for food trucks operating on their property?

The findings of the field study included the following:

  • A food truck parked in Gaslamp does not impede the flow of pedestrian traffic.  In fact, restaurants seemed to clog up sidewalks more than food trucks.
  • A 500 foot radius is proven to be too extreme as a cutoff point and a more realistic and reasonable distance should be set between 25 and 50 feet, depending on the location.
  • It is estimate that 2,350 mobile food truck permits will need to be processed in order for food trucks to operate in a legal manner. This would require the city hire 5 full time staff just to process the paperwork.

The study results seemed counter intuitive to the press release that Interim Mayor Todd Gloria released last week which stated he wanted to create “sensible rules that address public safety.”

Food truck operators have been urging the city to show concrete evidence of public safety issues caused by food trucks, since this is the reason provided for the proposed regulations.  Food truck operators view the proposed regulations as anti-competitive and discriminatory.

san diego food truck sign
Photo illustration by Lindsey Voltoline

SAN DIEGO, CA – Where San Diegans can buy a lobster-grilled-cheese sandwich or a chipotle-eggplant taco from a truck has been the subject of much talk during the last few months. Food-truck operators, neighborhood associations, city bureaucrats and elected officials have hotly debated how to regulate a mobile-food-vending industry that’s evolved in recent years to provide much more than bean burritos.

Facing pressure from so-called gourmet-food-truck operators, the city recently acknowledged that, under the state’s vehicle code, it can regulate mobile food vendors only in the interest of public safety. As a result, proposed regulations no longer include a rule that would have banned food trucks from operating within 75 feet of a street-level restaurant without permission from the owner.

This decision, stemming from an opinion from the City Attorney’s office and months of public meetings, significantly frustrated at least one city leader.

“So, just to make it clear, we’re not allowed to do economic protectionism, even though that’s protecting the restaurants that we have?” City Councilmember Lorie Zapf asked a deputy city attorney at the Feb. 12 meeting of the council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee, which she chairs.

“If someone just comes and parks right next to them at the lunch hour and, you know, kind of takes a lot of their business, we’re not allowed to protect the restaurant legally is what I’m hearing,” she added.

The 75-foot ban would be difficult to justify in terms of public safety, but the City Attorney’s office is “happy to analyze it,” responded Deputy City Attorney Inga Lintvedt. “There’s case law that ties the city’s hands there, but the city is always free if it can make public-health-and-safety findings and tie it that way.”

How the city justifies its proposed regulations has become the central issue in the debate over where food trucks can operate.

During the past decade, many cities, notably Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland and Austin, have grappled with how to regulate the emerging industry of gourmet food trucks. While San Diego has hashed out its position, local food-truck operators have dealt in the last year with vague city rules, selective enforcement and restaurant owners increasingly concerned about competition.

Gourmet-food-truck owners in San Diego and elsewhere have long complained that regulations often unfairly limit competition and, in some cases, have won significant legal battles. In response to concerns, interim Mayor Todd Gloria recently assured mobile food vendors that the city’s only intention with its draft regulations is to promote public safety.

“I’ve heard that the proposed ordinance is somehow anti-competitive, or discriminatory and enforces rules on food trucks that do not apply to other businesses in adjacent areas,” he said at a Feb. 13 press conference. “I’d like to correct that. The intent of the ordinance is a fair approach to protect public health, safety and welfare.”

Find the entire article at aaa <here>

todd gloria san diegoSAN DIEGO, CA – Interim Mayor Todd Gloria provided an update on the proposed regulation for food trucks yesterday.

The I-Mayor also spun what he called misconceptions circulated online.

Misconception: The proposal would limit food trucks from parking within 500 feet of restaurants.

  • Spin: There is no 500 foot separation distance that would be required from restaurants, nor is there any other limitation in the ordinance that would require a specific separation distance between mobile food trucks and restaurants.

Misconception: The proposal would ban food trucks in Gaslamp, Little Italy, and portions of Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, La Jolla, and around San Diego’s universities.

  • Spin: There is no ban of mobile food trucks included in the proposed ordinance. Instead, the City has identified appropriate zones and locations to allow mobile food trucks by right; and locations where food trucks need minimal staff review in order to limit the time, place, and manner of operations to minimize potential conflicts between pedestrians and vehicles.

Misconception: The proposed ordinance is anti-competitive and discriminatory and enforces rules on food trucks that do not apply to other businesses in adjacent areas.

  • Spin: The intent of the ordinance is a fair approach to protect public health, safety and welfare while providing for mobile food truck operations on private property and in the public right-of-way. No permit or limitations would apply to food truck operations in industrial zones, on the property of schools, universities, hospitals, or religious facilities, service to construction sites, or private catering.

Find the entire article at sdgln.com <here>


san diego city hallSAN DIEGO, CA – Food truck operators are crying foul over proposed citywide regulations that they say would significantly restrict where and when their mobile businesses could operate in San Diego.

The new rules, which go before the full City Council on March 3, were reviewed Wednesday by the council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee, which heard numerous comments from mobile food vendors who fear that the proposal could put them out of business. The committee agreed to forward the proposed ordinance to the council without a specific recommendation.

Efforts to establish more clear-cut rules for the food truck industry grew in part out of growing tensions between brick-and-mortar restaurants and mobile-food operations, which for years have been largely unregulated by the city of San Diego.

While the trucks are subject to very specific health standards governed by state and local regulations, there are no existing municipal code provisions that apply specifically to mobile operators serving food to the general public on private property.

Among the key regulations that have been proposed:

•Food trucks would be outlawed in the Gaslamp Quarter and much of Little Italy.

•No food trucks would be allowed within the first two to three blocks adjacent to the beach in such communities as Ocean Beach, parts of Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla.

•A prohibition on food trucks within “parking-impacted neighborhoods” surrounding San Diego State, University of San Diego and UC San Diego.

•For food trucks operating within 500 feet of a dwelling unit, hours of operation would be limited to 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday. (Some operators say the effect would be to ban mobile vendors in dense urban neighborhoods like downtown and North Park where there are many apartment and condo complexes near commercial areas).

Find the entire article at utsandiego.com <here>

In our quest to keep our readers up to date with the latest stories relating to the food truck industry has compiled a list of the stories that hit the wire this past weekend from Alexandria, Indianapolis, Tuscan and San Diego.

Off the Wire Food Truck NewsFebruary 7

Food Truck Fever – ALEXANDRIA, VA – When an idea for a restaurant transforms from a dream you’ve yammered on about for years into a reality, the soon-to-be-restaurateur needs to make a real real-estate decision. Location is usually the first factor considered. We made ours 10 years ago, before food trucks roamed the earth.

Find the entire article <here>

Food truck business struggles in cold weather – INDIANAPOLIS, IN – Old man winter has hit Hoosiers hard this year, and one segment of the business community is really taking it on the chin.

The snow and frigid temps are making it nearly impossible for mobile food businesses to keep on trucking.

Find the entire article <here>

February 8

Don’t call ’em “roach coaches”: Food trucks safe and clean – TUSCAN, AZ – Thinking about passing up that gourmet food truck in the parking lot for the cleaner restaurant down the street? Think again.

Commonly known on the streets of Tucson as “roach coaches,” food trucks are just as sanitary as restaurants, a Star analysis shows.

Find the entire article <here>

February 9

City Council to Consider Food Truck Restrictions – SAN DIEGO, CA – You could be seeing fewer food trucks around San Diego if city council passes new regulations.

On Wednesday, council’s Smart Growth and Land Use Committee will consider the restrictions.

Find the entire article <here>

Mercadito Wheels San DiegoSAN DIEGO, CA – Rolling onto San Diego streets by the end of January is Mercadito Wheels, a new food truck by Mercadito Hospitality, a Chicago-based restaurant group with local connections; Mercadito’s founders are relations of San Diego restaurateur and Mercadito Wheels’ managing partner, Pablo Becker (El Vitral).

The Mexican street food menu will have dishes transplanted from their Chicago restaurant, including shrimp tacos with roasted garlic, avocado and chipotle mojo, carnitas tacos with chile de árbol coleslaw and Baja-style fish tacos. Other handheld dish include their take on a burger, a grind of rib-eye and short rib burger with jalapeno emulsion, Mexican cheese and grilled scallions.

Their cocktail consultants, NYC’s Tippling Bros., have developed an agua frescas menu that includes refreshers like pineapple-ginger and citrus-basil.

The roving truck will set up a regular schedule of stops after they launch; keep tabs on their whereabouts via Facebook and Twitter.

Find the original article by Candice Woo at eater.com <here>

In our quest to keep our readers up to date with the latest stories relating to the food truck industry has compiled a list of the stories that hit the wire this past weekend from Atlanta, San Diego, Boston and Belmont Shore.

Off the Wire Food Truck NewsNovember 15

Food trucks find a home in the suburbs – ATLANTA, GA – The food truck fad appears to have found a comfortable home in the Atlanta suburbs.

Communities around metro Atlanta have reported that thousands of people have taken part in food truck events during the summer and fall in order to check out the trucks’ unique fare and socialize with neighbors.

Find the entire article <here>

City cooks up rules for food trucks – SAN DIEGO, CA – City rules for food trucks on private property began to take shape at an Oct. 23 hearing of the City Council’s Land Use & Housing Committee.

City staff have proposed regulating the food trucks’ proximity to restaurants, limiting their hours of operation and a creating a permit system for both property owners and food truck operators.

Find the entire article <here>

November 16

New England street food – BOSTON, MA – Taking inspiration from street food cuisine offered around the world, New England chefs are going mobile. They are hitting the streets, creating modern, delicious snacks and meals to go.

“For diners, it offers a quick way to eat well,” says Mike Martini, former chef and co-owner of Newport Gourmet Food Tours. “For chefs, there’s no high overhead, no front-of-the-house hassles, and no more filtered feedback on their food. The customer is eating it right there in front of them.”

Find the entire article <here>

November 17

Roe. To Use Food Truck While Project Wraps Up – Belmont Shore, CA – Work to build out Roe. (sic) Restaurant & Fish Market in Belmont Shore has been ongoing for more than a year now, but the owners of the establishment said they know they will have at least one more setback, requiring a temporary food truck, before the project is complete in early January.

Find the entire article <here>

san diego city hallSAN DIEGO, CA – The City Council took the first steps Wednesday toward developing regulations for the burgeoning food truck industry in San Diego, in an effort to balance competing interests of truck operators, restaurateurs and residents.

Operators of the trucks, popularized by television shows on the Food Network, have been complaining the past few months about tough enforcement by Neighborhood Code Compliance officers, who are operating under rules that aren’t specifically tailored for the new business model.

Councilman David Alvarez said many operators of gourmet food trucks are violating current city codes. Several council members said the idea behind the drive to regulate the industry was to give operators a clear set of rules they can work under.

“They’re part of the fabric of San Diego,” said Chris Duggan of the California Restaurant Association, which represents food truck operators and brick-and-mortar restaurants. “Food truck operators right now are in limbo — they don’t know where to operate and when.”

Marko Pavlinovic owns a food truck and has more than 3,000 followers on social media.

“Once I post on Facebook and Twitter where I’m going to be and they don’t find me there it’s a disappointment. It’s bad for business,” said Pavlinovic.

Within the last few months he has been shut down for operating on private property because currently, no zone within the city allows food trucks on private property.

“You know, every time I get shut down, I lose money,” said Pavlinovic. “I got to pay my employees, I got to pay my produce, I got to pay my things. It’s starting to be a little ridiculous,” said Pavlinovic.

But many restaurant owners disagree.

“It’s unethical and it’s not the way to do business,” said Moe Sadighian, who co-owns six restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter.

They pay more than $70,000 in rent each month and he wants the food trucks out.

“They get to get there when they want. They don’t have to pay rent. They pay small fees for a permit. They close the street off,” said Sadighian.

Pavlinovic says he understands why restaurant owners get upset, but tells 10News he pays his fair share.

“We pay taxes, we pay our fees,” he said. “I’ve got a commissary. I’ve got a food truck I’ve got to pay rent on and I’ve got a kitchen to pay too. I mean, I have more bills probably than a little small corner shop, a mom and pop shop.”

Pavlinovic says he just wants to run his business.

FInd the remainder of the article by Craig Herrera at 10news.com <here>

SAN DIEGO, CA – There’s battle brewing in San Diego over where food trucks can operate. City officials are trying to rewrite the law to clear up confusion, but some food truck owners worry they are going in the wrong direction.


The city code in question doesn’t allow gourmet food trucks to operate on private property without a special permit.

The Filner administration wasn’t enforcing the rule, but now interim Mayor Todd Gloria has taken a harder stance on the issue.

Marko Pavlinovic parks his food truck Mangia Mangia Mobile at India and B Streets every Wednesday and hungry customers come out in droves.

Pavlinovic is upset that the city kept him from opening up in a parking lot Tuesday night even though he has a mobile vending license and he has an “A” health code rating.

“They’re shutting us down,” Pavlinovic said. “Yesterday, I was supposed to be at 3rd & B Streets in an Ace parking lot and I got a phone call saying, ‘hey, we’re going to shut you down.’”

He rents the lot space so when he can’t sell food, his business is losing money and every dollar counts.

“That’s an average of $1,000 in sales I lose if I don’t go out for one day,” Pavlinovic said.

OUR THOUGHTS: While interim Mayor Gloria may feel that settling the issue with food trucks on private property is a low priority…maybe he should ask the owners of these trucks who are being forced to shut down until the laws are changed how they feel about this topic.

Find the entire article by Walter Morris at fox5sandiego.com <here>

Sign the online petition to Keep Food Trucks in San Diego <here>

SAN DIEGO, CA – From a tip from our friends at San Diego Food Trucks it appears that San Diego mobile food vendors have found themselves in a troubling situation. Please read the following petition the owner of Curbside Bites has put together over at change.org. We are pretty sure that if you are a supporter of the mobile food industry in your area, you can appreciate and will be willing to take a few seconds to sign their petition that is aimed at pressuring the interim San Diego mayor from trying to get rid of food trucks in San Diego.

san diego food truck petition

“New Mayor, New Rules,” at least that’s what the city of San Diego has to say when it announced that the city of San Diego will be shutting down any and all food trucks that operate on private property in the city, which accounts for over 75% of all food truck operations in San Diego.

In late 2012, the the City of San Diego Code Enforcement Division made an attempt to shut down any and all food trucks operating on any piece of private property.  The division stated they were getting a lot of pressure from restaurants complaining about the trucks and were going to view food trucks as a non-approved use of private property.  For a short while the Enforcement Officers went on a Witch hunt to shut down any food truck operating on private property until a group of food trucks banned together and threatened a lawsuit for anti-competitive business practices and targeting minority owned businesses.

Once threatened with a lawsuit, the previous Mayor met with food truck owners and Code Enforcement to put any closures on hold until the City amended its food truck regulations to allow food trucks to operate on private property just as they have been allowed to do for over 20 years.

Unfortunately, since Interim Mayor Todd Gloria took office, the City has decided to turn its back on their previous promise and shut down small businesses run by San Diego locals and minorities who operate food trucks throughout the city.   We believe the city needs to be held accountable to their promise and needs to stop trying to destroy an industry that consumers love  Rather, we ask that they support local small business growth in San Diego.  We believe consumers have a right to eat the food they love.  Show your support for your favorite neighborhood food truck by signing this petition.  From gourmet food trucks you’ve seen on your favorite Food Network shows to your favorite taco truck, we need your support to keep serving local fresh food.

By signing this petition you are letting the mayor’s office and all City Council know that food trucks have a right to operate on private property within the city.  You are also supporting the idea that the city needs to be held accountable to promises they have made to small business owners within the city of San Diego.

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