Appetizers
August 2, 2012
New coalition to lobby at Friday's food truck ordinance meeting

Food truck owners, city officials and restaurateurs are set to meet on Friday to discuss a possible compromise with local mobile food ordinances. One of the main advocacy groups behind the scenes is the recently formed California Mobile Food Association (CMFA), which is a coalition of 20 Sacramento area mobile food vendors. Many of these vendors have split from SactoMoFo, the mobile food organization behind the area's largest food truck festivals and an early advocate for amending city ordinances to make them food truck friendly.

"Up until a few months ago, we weren't present in meetings being had between the city and restaurateurs," said Matt Chong, co-owner of the Wicked 'Wich food truck and board director for the CMFA. "We were hearing about all this tension and trying to figure out why. We realized we needed to have our own voice directly from the trucks. We're coming forth with realistic expectations because we know the business day in and day out."

Current city ordinances state that mobile food vendors must move after 30 minutes and cease business when the sun goes down. Chong said recent discussions with the city and brick-and-mortar restaurateurs have been productive, and have a framework that may soon make its way to the city's Law and Legislation Committee. Among the proposals:

- J, K and L streets will have limited mobile food activity, in respect to the high concentrations of brick & mortar establishments.

- Mobile food activity will be more frequent in other parts of downtown/midtown with lower concentrations of restaurants.

- There will be a predetermined distance that food trucks have to keep from brick and mortar restaurants. However, if a bar/restaurant wants to have a truck in proximity, they can grant approval to the truck.

- There will be a limitation on how frequently food trucks can return to a single location.

- There will be a much longer window for business.

Chong said these proposals have gone far in finding common ground.

"A lot of the arguments (from restaurateurs) were based on free-for-all concepts," said Chong. "We don't want to cannibalize the restaurant business. We want to have brick-and-mortar businesses of our own. It's about understanding the concerns on the other side of the table."

We'll keep you posted of how Friday's meeting pans out.

In the meantime, the CMFA will be holding a variety of food truck round-ups under the name FoodMob. Participating vendors include: Wicked 'Wich, Heavenly Dog, Fuzion Eatz, Mama Kim On the Go, Squeeze Inn and OMG Burger.

For more information: gofoodmob.com.

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