Patch Blog: Food Trucks Are Great for SP Business

Remember, government entities are our servants, not the other way around. If we want change, we need to fight for it.

In recent months, there has been growing debate in South Pasadena on the presence of gourmet food trucks at and by the during the .

The story first broke and came to my attention in an article on July 6th, 2011 entitled here on Patch.com. Since that time, there have been an overwhelming number of South Pasadena residents making comments in the feedback threads in support of the food trucks on all , including my recent on the subject. There are a few naysayers in the comments sections, but the majority seem to approve of their presence.

The problem that these mobile proprietors face is that the City Finance Department has issued them a business permit/license and the South Pasadena Police turn around and issue them a citation under an old city ordinance (section 19.49) that states "no person shall park a vehicle upon any roadway for the principal purpose of: (c) selling therefrom or therein any article, service or thing; provided, however, that any peddler or canvasser licensed under the provisions of Chapter 18 of this code may take orders or deliver any commodity from a vehicle on that part of any street immediately adjacent to the premises of any purchaser." 

I see this as discriminatory and unfair to cite someone for operating a business that the city has licensed to operate in the city limits. 

In doing further research on the subject for the City Council meeting on August 17th, I found that regulating public streets is a matter that is governed by state law. Any change of which would have to affect food trucks and all other vehicles alike. This leaves the City of South Pasadena only minor specific enforcement wiggle room, mostly regarding public safety issues.

Perhaps the strongest regulatory ammunition the City may have is the California Health and Safety Code Section 114315 that requires all stopped mobile food facilities conducting business for more than one hour to operate within 200 feet of an approved, readily available and fully functioning restroom facility. If the restroom is within a business, a food truck operator must have written permission from the business owner for use.

During my research, I also found that not only does this city code section conflict with the vehicle code, but it is in violation of the California Constitution as well.  Article 11, Section 7 of the California Constitution states;  “A county or city may make and enforce within its limits all local, police, sanitary and other ordinances and regulations not in conflict with general laws.” Anyone that has been through a high school civics class can clearly see the problem here; this ordinance conflicts with the general laws of the State of California. 

In fact, the City of Santa Monica has of food trucks for the same reasons I mention until a resolution with the vehicle code can be met.

The city must stop the harassment of these business owners who contribute just as much to our city as a “brick and mortar” business. They pay sales tax, a business license fee, income tax and wages to their employees (some of them local high school students).

With their thousands of Facebook and Twitter followers, these food trucks also draw business into the City. One of the trucks (Paradise Cookies) was even doing a fundraiser for our local school programs when the cited them. The police department should stop engaging in the unfair “taxation by citation” by not enforcing an antiquated and obsolete city code section. 

These mobile proprietors are not breaking California law (laws that supersede and guide local authority) and are working just as hard as everyone else is to make a buck in this economy. If you don’t like the food trucks, don’t patronize them. A free market will tell whether the fad sticks or fades like so many others into the annals of history.

Mayor Ten has graciously motioned () for the food truck debate to be placed on the agenda for one of next month's City Council meetings. I hope to see all of you "foodies" out in support of repealing this ordinance, and I will post in the comments section the actual date it will be heard. Remember, government entities are our servants, not the other way around. If we want change, we need to fight for it. 

If anyone would like to see exactly where I found all of these sections regarding vending from vehicles, take a look at Vehicle Code Sections 22455, 22456, 22500, 22520.5 and Health and Safety Code Section 114315 by following the imbedded hyperlinks in this post. Take the time, look them up and decide for yourself. This ordinance needs to be repealed before it costs us (the hard working taxpayers of South Pasadena) countless dollars in potential litigation.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Chris Colburn August 23, 2011 at 02:37 AM
You are correct, Chief. But the way the current ordinance is written, it is (I believe) unenforceable as VC 22455 specifically allows for vending from a vehicle on a public street if they meet 22500 subsections and H&S 114315. If they are in compliance with the vehicle code provisions and not breaking California H&S law if they move spots every hour or park within 200 feet of the bathroom at Garfield Park, doesn't the ordinance need to be changed to reflect the provisions of enforcement under the vehicle code? This ordinance does nothing for public safety as it is written and it doesn't regulate which types of businesses it targets or the times of operation like the vehicle code allows. I do agree that this ordinance was most likely enacted to keep the "wanna buy a stereo?" and many of the other unsavory types of criminals out of South Pasadena. I'm all for keeping the city residents safe. Treating city licensed mobile business owners like those afore mentioned criminals is wrong.
Ron Rosen August 23, 2011 at 05:23 AM
Did the tickets that the Dumpling Station received specifically cite to specific additional unmet requirements? Are all similarly situated vehicles being treated the same, or is it only food trucks? Ultimately, the Dumpling Station will have to fight this in court because I doubt the city will come back and say, "You're right, we've misapplied the law."
Chris Colburn August 23, 2011 at 05:49 AM
Ron, I have contacted the attorney representing the Southern California Mobile Food Vendor's Association that is currently working on the suit against the city of Monrovia for his input on the situation. The suit brings up all of the above mentioned points I do. The suit is seeking an injunction so that the city of Monrovia can only enforce parking, public safety concerns relating to the vehicle code and the violations of the said patrons that commit infractions like "Jay-walking" or illegal U-turns in their attempts to patronize the food trucks, and to fight their out-right ban of mobile vendors.
Chris Colburn September 19, 2011 at 06:11 PM
This item will be postponed until the first City Council meeting in October. The City Council will not meet this week due to some council members participating in a state sanctioned function.
Kristen Lepore September 19, 2011 at 06:51 PM
Thanks for the update, Chris. The official announcement is here: http://patch.com/N-c35H


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »