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County to Create a Food Truck and Restaurant Task Force

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Lindsay William-Ross/LAist

Lindsay William-Ross/LAist
The decision to implement a health grading system for food trucks and carts today was pushed back to a meeting in October, but officials still took steps to address issues. County Supervisor Don Knabe announced that he is creating a taskforce made up of mobile vendors and restaurant owners. The move is prompted by concerns raised by restaurants that food trucks and carts are unfairly competing with them.

“In this economy, we need to promote a business environment where both restaurant owners and mobile food vendors can work together to serve the public safely and conveniently, and thrive,” Knabe said. “Bringing the parties together in a constructive atmosphere is a means to see what can be done to make the situation better for all concerned.”

The Southern California Mobile Food Vending Truck Association's Matt Geller, who will be a member of the taskforce, sees it differently when you add a historical perspective. He said that in 18th-century France, when restaurants first began to appear, street food vendors complained.

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"Back in those days restaurants were opposed vigorously by the guilds, who thought that allowing patrons to sit down and eat food in the same place where it was being sold was unfair," he wrote in an article in The New Colonist.

Reached by phone, Geller added that when drive-ins and fast food restaurants began dotting the map, complaints by other food businesses were launched against them. Basically, drama always ensues when there is a paradigm shift, but he warns that "whenever the government is reahing out to reduce choice for the consumer, it's not a good thing."

The taskforce will report back in 90 days with recommendations of how to facilitate the co-existence of both mobile food vendors and restaurant owners.