New Food Truck Regulations Passed

On Monday, the City Council, approved new regulations on food trucks in San Diego. 

Read the full article from the San Diego Union-Tribune:

“The new regulations, which some mobile vendors say will harm their businesses, were necessary because there currently are no municipal code provisions that govern trucks serving food to the general public on private property, most notably in commercial areas.

“The net effect of the ordinance, expected to go into effect sometime in April, will be to disallow trucks in the Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, and portions of several beach areas. In addition, late-night operations in dense urban areas will be prohibited where food trucks are parked close to homes.

“The council did make one change Monday in response to concerns raised by truck owners over a requirement that permits must be obtained by property owners who want to host a food truck. No such permit would be required for industrially zoned land, and the council agreed to waive the permit as well for commercial office parks. The cost for obtaining such permits is between $491 to $935 for each location, a cost likely borne by the food truck owners.

“Other regulations include:

•Food trucks would be outlawed within eight blocks in the Gaslamp Quarter along Fifth Avenue and a six-block area of Little Italy.

•No food trucks would be allowed within the first two to three blocks adjacent to the beach in such communities as Ocean Beach, parts of Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla.

•A prohibition on food trucks within “parking-impacted neighborhoods” surrounding San Diego State, University of San Diego and UC San Diego.

Study shows that proposed food truck regulations lack proof & reasoning

A new study done by students at San Diego State University show Interim Mayor Todd Gloria’s justification for food truck rules don’t hold up and will likely be unenforceable.

The San Diego Reader did a good summary of the study, or you can keep reading for more details here.

Students from SDSU did a field study (see PDF link below) on some of the more controversial proposed food truck regulations to be voted on this Monday, March 3rd in City Council.

The proposed rules that were analyzed include:

  • Ban on food truck operating on private property and the on the street in Gaslamp (157.0304)
  • Limit on hours of operation for food trucks when within 500 ft of any dwelling unit (141.0612.A.11)
  • Commercial & Residential property owners looking to host food trucks must obtain a Mobile Food Permit. (123.0602)

The results of the study answered the following questions:

  • Is there a public safety concern for pedestrians when a food truck is parked on the street in the Gaslamp Quarter of Downtown San Diego?
  • To what degree does a food truck increase the ambient noise level when operating between the hours of 11PM-2AM and how far does the noise travel with relation to the surrounding areas
  • Approximately how many locations will be required to obtain a mobile food permit for food trucks operating on their property?
The findings of the field study included the following:
  • A food truck parked in Gaslamp does not impede the flow of pedestrian traffic.  In fact, restaurants seemed to clog up sidewalks more than food trucks.
  • A 500 foot radius is proven to be too extreme as a cutoff point and a more realistic and reasonable distance should be set between 25 and 50 feet, depending on the location.
  • It is estimated that 2,350 mobile food truck permits will need to be processed in order for food trucks to operate in a legal manner. This would require the city hire 5 full time staff just to process the paperwork.

The study results seemed counter intuitive to the press release that Interim Mayor Todd Gloria released two weeks ago that stated he wanted to create “sensible rules that address public safety.” Food truck operators have been urging the city to show concrete evidence of public safety issues caused by food trucks, since this is the reason provided for the proposed regulations. Food truck operators view the proposed regulations as anti-competitive and discriminatory.

Full Text of the SDSU Food Truck Study (PDF)