Chaac Mool Is Being Moved Out of Dolores Park Into the Street

Chaac_Mool_Truck.jpg
Dolores Park Works/Flickr
Chaac Mool's trailer in Dolores Park.
For such a little cart, Chaac Mool has been the target of a large scandal. More than a year ago, some Missionites began complaining about the SF Department of Recreation and Parks' decision to award food-vending licenses to Blue Bottle Coffee and La Cocina, which then sublet its trailer to Chaac Mool. The department currently licenses seven vendors to operate food carts or trucks in SF's public parks, most of them in Golden Gate Park (Off the Grid, which organizes weekly truck gatherings, has permits for several parks.)

The activists, spearheaded by people connected to Mission coffee shops, complained that these vendor licenses constituted a privatization of public space, though they exempted the stream of people wandering around the park selling paletas, beer, cookies, empanadas, and pot truffles from their complaints. (About Golden Gate Park they have remained totally mum.) The opposition worked, to a certain extent; Blue Bottle withdrew from the park, while La Cocina ignored threats of a puke-in and moved forward with the launch of the Chaac Mool trailer this spring. 

Now, it, too, is being moved off the park -- sort of.

Yesterday, the Examiner reported that Supervisor Scott Wiener had introduced a measure to move Chaac Mool onto the end of 19th Street where it dead-ended in the park, converting the nubbin of street into Rec and Park land. 

SFoodie spoke to Wiener this morning, who acknowledges the move is a concession to Dolores Park Works and other activist groups who opposed the trailers. "This is purely a unique situation that only affects Dolores Park, not a broader policy issue," he said. "We have a unique situation where we have this one area [where the street] indents into the park, so that we can place the cart there and it's still effectively in the park."

"The other unique thing here," Wiener continued, "is that the vendor requested this location. The park is going to start a major renovation, which is going to be phased. This way, the vendor would not constantly have to move his cart around the park as the phasing happened."

"If you're taking all these steps to move Chaac Mool onto the curb, why shouldn't they just apply for a street food permit from the Department of Public Works?" SFoodie then asked Wiener. "That would be much cheaper than paying rent to the Parks Department."

"That wouldn't work," Wiener argued. "We all through it was important for Rec and Park to continue to earn income, especially in this budget environment. I don't think DPW would issue a permit for the edge of the park, since it's a residential area." Wiener claims there are no current street-food permit applications requesting curbside spots around Dolores Park.

As for Chaac Mool, spokesperson Margarita Hernandez says that owners Luis and Maria Vazquez weren't exactly excited about the move, as Wiener suggested. "We are willing to compromise," she says, diplomatically. "We're just excited to keep serving Dolores Park and the community. That's the most important part."

Apparently, everybody wins in this situation: The park is now a 100% capitalism-free area, except for the Hong Kong-like designated commercial zone at the edge of it. The Parks Department gets to charge rent to a vendor now parking on the street. And Chaac Mool -- well, at least we still get to buy its great cochinita pibil tacos to take up with us on the hill, where we can purchase everything else we need for a picnic in the sun from the activist-approved vendors roaming the slopes.

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3 comments
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Paulatejeda
Paulatejeda

There is NOTHING capitalism free in AMERICA--starting with the tyrannical permits from city departments, to the tyrannical citizens finding reasons to make hard working people's lives more difficult--through their righteous sense of entitlement. Paula Tejeda, Chile Lindo

Harvey Milked
Harvey Milked

1. Chaac Mool is super overpriced and not very busy in the park and the truck is really ugly2. La Cocina have put their vendors in Stow Lake Boathouse where its original owners were kicked out by Rec and Park after 50 years. Way to go La Cocina. 3. Isn't Scott Weiner supposed to be advocating for Dolores Park Neighborhood rather than fighting for a taco truck 4. The Park has an enormous hole in it that keeps getting larger by the day! Great leadership

heather cochran
heather cochran

I blame all of this on chicken john. Then again, I feel like I can trace loads of bad things back to that douchebag. 

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