Is Museum Square Trying to Block Food Trucks from Parking on 5700 Wilshire? 'No Comment,' Says Management
The latest development on the 5700 block of Wilshire Boulevard, which is ground zero for the conversation about food trucks parking near restaurants, has been an interesting one. For the past few weeks, there has been an organized effort -- walkie talkies and all -- that involves cars taking up metered spaces for the majority of the day. Everyday, parking enforcement write them tickets.
Speculation from office workers pointed towards the management of Museum Square, the renovated 1947 building that is home to a handful of restaurants, including Marie Callender's, Johnnies New York Pizza, Baja Fresh and Organic To Go.
This morning, LAist photographer Peggy Archer photographed Museum Square maintenance employees using their personal cars to take up the spaces. None would speak on the record, but sources said they are paid to "rent" out their vehicle to be parked on the street. Each day, the parking tickets are apparently collected by management and paid.
In a brief phone call to Museum Square management, a man who only identified himself as John would not talk about the situation. He said "no comment" before saying goodbye and hanging up (we called him back and left our contact information just in case he changed his mind).
The controversy on 5700 Wilshire began last summer as the food truck trend began to explode. Tired of the same restaurant choices, droves of office workers welcomed the variety and novelty that food trucks would bring to the street. But the all-of-the-sudden competition mixed with the economy put restaurants in a tough situation and pitted the two food service types against each other with, at one point, the LAPD in between.
"I've cut employees left and right because we don't have enough income to keep everyone here," explained Jose Ceja, the manager of Johnnies NY Pizza, to LAist last summer. "The economy has been bad and I had to cut, and then these trucks show up and had to cut more. We all average $15,000 to $18,000 in rent, have to pay employee taxes and alcohol licenses."
Since then, Councilmembers Tom LaBonge, who represents the area, has introduced two motions in an attempt to solve the problem.
When the recent parking situation arose, both Ceja and the owner of local Baja Fresh franchise seemed surprised and said they did not know anything about it. Office workers, many who have said they witnessed Museum Square employees park on Wilshire all day, are not blaming restaurants either.
In the end, however, there doesn't seem to be too much anger between food truck operators, office workers and the Museum Square employees used to park their cars. "There's not any animosity between them at all," said Archer. "All of them seem to think the building owner/manager's being silly, but they mostly think it's funny and there's not a lot of anger."