September 19, 2012
Legal concerns prompt a new draft of proposed food truck ordinances

Anyone thinking that changes to current mobile food vending ordinances would breeze through city hall was given a reality check on Tuesday afternoon. After numerous postponments, mobile food ordinances were heard before the city's Law and Legislation committee, only to find legal concerns expressed and a need for more discussions which are scheduled to be heard on Oct. 16.

Three meetings had previously been held between mobile food vendors and brick and mortar restaurant owners, who drafted proposed changes to current city ordinances which limit mobile food vending to 30 minutes, among other ordinances. The latest proposals include increasing the vending time limit to 90 minutes along some stretches J,K and L streets but vendors would have to keep at least one block away from restaurants. Other parts of the central city would see those time limits stretched to 2 1/2 hours and also require vendors to stay at least one block from restaurants. Food trucks would be off limits in Old Sacramento.

However, at Tuesday's meeting the city attorney's office expressed concerns about possible legal issues. The issue of whether cities have the authority to regulate where food trucks can do business had previously been raised by the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association. This advocacy group had previously expressed strong opposition to compromises reached between Sacramento mobile food vendors and restaurateurs.

Stakeholders are expected to meet before Oct. 16 to continue working on outstanding issues. Proposed food truck "pods" around the city will be heard before the Law and Legislation Committee at a separate time.

Daniel Conway, spokesperson for the California Restaurant Association, remains confident that food truck ordinances will be revised.

"There's really no doubt in my mind and nothing about yesterday changed that," said Conway. "Sometimes it feels like a rollercoaster you can't get off of, but at the same time I appreciate the thoughtfulness and focus that everyone's brought to the table. The ball is still moving forward."

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