Council fine-tunes city’s operating rules for food trucks
by DAVE SCHWAB
Mar 07, 2014 | 2748 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The City Council took action to clean up rules and regulations governing the operation of mobile food trucks in city limits.                          Courtesy photo
The City Council took action to clean up rules and regulations governing the operation of mobile food trucks in city limits. Courtesy photo
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San Diego City Council unanimously passed new rules for increasingly popular mobile food trucks citywide which allows them to operate on public streets and in commercial areas, but restricts their late-night operating hours while requiring them to be at least 300 feet from residences.

Food trucks will only be allowed to operate between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Mobile trucks can now be operated without a permit in industrial, commercial and high-density residential areas. They will largely be prohibited however, except for special events, in low-density neighborhoods and in the restaurant-dense Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy.

Food trucks will also be allowed only by special permit on streets in parking overlay zones near the beachfront and close to universities.

New rules also prohibit truck operators from having amplified music or fselling alcohol, and to police themselves by collecting litter within a 25-foot radius before moving on.

Trucks will be precluded from impairing pedestrian or vehicular traffic. They also will be allowed on private property with a permit costing between $491 and $931.Trucks must also have a city phone number posted on them so violations of operating conditions can be reported.

“If you read the ordinance, only 5 percent of the city will not be open to food trucks, and even in those areas they will be allowed by special-event permit,” said District 3 Councilman Todd Gloria, who noted that presently “laws do not allow for food trucks on private property.”

“We’re trying to change that,” said Gloria about existing truck regulations adding, “These rules are fair.”

Noting there’s room for “both brick-and-mortar and mobile food trucks to be successful,” District 6 Councilmember Lori Zapf expressed concern about truck operations impacting residents. She made the successful motion that trucks be required to be at least 300 feet from dwellings.

Public testimony largely was in favor of proposed amendments to the city’s municipal codes and the need to clarify food truck operating conditions.

A couple of downtown food-cart operators complained that new regulations were giving mobile truck operators an unfair competitive advantage, and that the cost for permits on private property was excessive.

Denny Knox, executive director of the Ocean Beach MainStreet Association, a business improvement district (BID) representing the restaurant-rich Ocean Beach community, said she was confused about the new truck ordinance and uncertain of its consequences.

“There are so many parts to this, I don’t know whether to support it or be opposed,” testified Knox. “We’re worried about the economic impacts to parts of the city, like ours, where 40-some percent of employees work in restaurants.”

Another Obecean, Dave Martin, president of Ocean Beach Town Council, said the “parking impact overlay zone protects us.” Martin said beach residents just want to make sure that “we’re on a fair playing field” with the new truck regulations

After the March 3 hearing, Chris Olson, a Pacific Beach Planning Group member, said food trucks provide a community service.

“I love the food trucks at the Saturday Seaside Farmers Market at Mission Bay High School,” Olson said. “This is a “win, win, win. They do not impact local restaurants, a portion of the proceeds go to our local schools and I get a great Saturday lunch during my bay-loop bike ride.”

The City Council also voted to review the changes to the ordinance in one year to assess their impacts and effectiveness.
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