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Food Fight: City Councilmember Wants to Look into Limiting Food Truck Parking

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A food truck serves customers while parked on Wilshire Boulevard | Photo by polaroid-girl via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr


A food truck serves customers while parked on Wilshire Boulevard | Photo by polaroid-girl via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr
Complaints about food trucks over the past year have gotten to Councilmember Tom LaBonge, who represents a portion of Wilshire Boulevard where it has become a ground zero of sorts between brick and mortar businesses and the mobile eateries. "I appreciate the the value they can add to our culinary landscape," he said earlier this week during a public meeting, but he explained that something had to be done. On Friday he took the first step by submitting two food truck motions for the Los Angeles City Council to consider.

"These trucks park for multiple hours at parking meters in commercially zones areas, contrary to the intent of those parking meter spaces," he wrote in a motion. "Parking meters were designed to encourage turnover of vehicles in high-demand areas. Parking meters also fight traffic congestion and pollution when their rates match parking demand. These businesses sometimes operate without city permits and absorb parking ticket fines as cost of doing business."

The motion asks for city staff to study and make recommendations on restricting trucks from parking in meters within commercially zoned areas, examining what other cities, like Portland, have done to address the issue, enforcing repeat parking violators and working with the food truck industry on the issue.

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Another motion asks for "the creation of specially designated parking zones for catering trucks."

But this might not bode well for LaBonge or the city council, which faces an industry with growing political power and case law in their favor. "This regulation is short sighted," said Matt Geller of the SoCal Mobile Vendors Association (SCMVA).

Geller says the California Vehicle code does not allow cities to limit vending from vehicles for just any reason. The code says local agencies may only "adopt additional requirements for the public safety regulating the type of vending and the time, place, and manner of vending from vehicles upon any street."

"I think they're going to be hard prssed to get over that," said Geller.

Although there's an estimated 4,000 taco trucks operating within Los Angeles County, there are about 100 of the newer brand of food trucks that have gained popularity over the last year. And under the umbrella of the SCMVA, they've been using the power of Twitter to activate customers into political agents. On the June 8th primary, a candidate they rallied around won the Democratic nomination.

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Geller says, however, he does look forward to working LaBonge and the City Council in coming weeks. He's confident something can be worked out, especially considering that Los Angeles lost a court case last year dealing with food trucks. Citing the vehicle code, a judge asked the city how banning catering trucks from streets enhanced or furthered public safety. If anything, many believe, street food has created a positive culture of community on the streets.

Added: Councilmember Paul Koretz, who has been the focus of food truck issues before, seconded both of LaBonge's motions.