New Food Truck Bill Could Kill S.F.'s Street Food Scene

Categories: Street Eats
KoJa-Kitchen_3739.jpg
Luis Chong
If AB 1678 passes, food trucks won't be allowed to park within three blocks of a school.
​L
ast Tuesday, Assemblymember Bill Monning (D-Carmel) introduced AB 1678, a bill intended to prevent students from eating their lunch at food trucks instead of the school cafeteria. As it's currently written, AB 1678 would ban food trucks from parking within 1,500 feet of any school. The state bill resembles a similar ordinance passed in Novato in December -- and at first glance seems similar to San Francisco's current street-food ordinance, which prevent food trucks from parking on public property within 1,500 feet of middle schools and high schools.

But the differences between current city regulations and the new bill, argues San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener, are considerable. In fact, he calls the AB 1678 "terrible." "The state law applies to elementary schools as well as middle schools and high schools, and that doesn't make sense," Wiener says. "I don't know any elementary schools that allow their students to leave campus for lunch -- and there are many more elementary schools in town."
Just to give you a sense of what we're talking about, 1,500 feet is about three city blocks. 

"We're having a map drawn now," Wiener adds, "but it looks like [expanding the limit to] 1,500-hundred feet from all schools would knock out the bulk of the city from having access to food trucks." Off the Grid organizer Matt Cohen adds that San Francisco's ordinance only covers food trucks parked on the street, while the proposed state legislation is written loosely enough that it might cover private property and parks as well.

It's clear that the legislation was drafted by someone who doesn't live in the second-densest major city in the county. In addition, critics of AB 1678 have already pointed out that fast food outlets are not subjected to the same 1,500-foot rule. 

Wiener is convening a working group of restaurateurs, food truck operators, and other interested parties in order to refine the city's street-food legislation. In fact, one of the items on his agenda, he says, is to relax San Francisco's 1,500-foot limit to a one-block ban.

SactoMoFo, a Sacramento advocacy group that throws food-truck events, is organizing a letter drive to petition Assemblymember Monning to re-examine the legislation. Cohen says that street-food groups around the state are mobilizing to respond to AB 1678, and Wiener hopes to ask, at minimum, for an exemption for San Francisco or other cities that have passed their own ordinances regarding food trucks and schools.

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22 comments
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Kylehineman
Kylehineman

 I own/operate the only ice cream truck in Eureka Ca. I am subject to the same permits, inspections and insurance requirements as any other food service operation. The proposed bill would seriously impact my ability to do business and effectively cause me to have to close my business . In this time of high unemployment and serious state budget problems, does California need to make it impossible for thousands of small businesses to operate and put many thousands more out of a job?

Eugenemoor
Eugenemoor

Another loss of freedom in america,we are being nickeled and dimed into total government submission,is this another republican law?

big45kimber
big45kimber

Another law passed to limit commerce!Who would have thunk it, especially in the S.F. area?Hey, I have a great idea! Let's limit commerce, restrict people from making an HONEST living, and keep our precious mush-head kids safe! Because we know more than these 'little people' know, and we have to perpetuate the "NANNY STATE"!So, does this shut down fixed eating establishments, also?Just another KNEE-JERK law for a non-issue!

Tim
Tim

Something wrong with a state that thinks Cannabis needs to be 1000 feet from kids but food, oh my god, should be 1500 feet from them.  Silly stuff...until you realize it's actually messing up the city and state in very tangible ways.

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Sex offenders can't live within 2000 feet of a school, so I assume that food trucks are therefore 75% as evil as sex offenders.

Really? Really, Monning?

Meatsack
Meatsack

The single party status of Ca. insures idiocy like this.  They have run out of things to legislate and there really is no opposing party to bicker with.  What legislation have they dreamed up that actually helps anyone laately, the democrats have to create busy work for themselves so that the voters are reminded that they exist. 

One of the reasons I have become a member of the fastest growing party in the state, decline to state.

noktulo
noktulo

It's ridiculous that they assume all food trucks are unhealthy compared to restaurants or fast food outlets. How bout prescribing that food trucks outside of schools need to have most items under 500 calories? 

Patrick Schiller-Nunes
Patrick Schiller-Nunes

Such BS. They assembly need to worry more about the smoke shops opening up near schools than a food truck. We have had two smoke shops that sell cigarettes, pot and crystal meth pipes here in Sacramento a few months ago. One is right accross the street from one (Tahoe Park Elementary) I see kids in there all the time. I guess that is ok.

Info
Info

Tweet the hell out of @billmonning for trying to destroy small businesses, which may be our only answer to a sagging economy! Support your small businesses!

John
John

It looks like he hasn't posted to Twitter since August of 2011. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he probably doesn't read it very often.

Irwin0703
Irwin0703

they shouldn't let the students to leave school for lunch/breaks in the first place if they want their students to eat the caff food. effin idiots!

Indoor Camping
Indoor Camping

Please. Go to Portland. After living there for 15 years, I'm happy to be back.  All those horrid taxes you probably complain about that we have here, they're all worth it to live in such a civilized place.

If you can't figure out that articles like this are written to stir things up, and that the sky isn't really falling, then please go. And when you get to Portland, see how fun it is to live in a rainy place with no jobs and less support. There may be more food trucks, but good luck trying to find a job to pay to eat there.

Hundertwasser
Hundertwasser

Actually, yes, several thousand folks will lose their jobs if this becomes law.

Just because the sky isn't falling on you doesn't mean it's not falling on someone else.

Make light of their situation if you wish, but if you expect other folks to stand up when you're in trouble you need to do the same for all of us.

SoCal MFVA
SoCal MFVA

On February 14, 2012 Assemblymember Bill Monning (Carmel) introduced AB 1678, which would prohibit mobile vending 1500 feet from an elementary or secondary school from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  This Bill is flawed in many respects.  If enacted, the Bill would decimate the burgeoning mobile food industry without addressing the author’s concerns in any significant manner.   In many California cities, more than 80 percent of the public right of ways are within 1500 feet of a school.  Without suitable areas to operate a large number of mobile restaurants will be forced out of business.  Yet, even with food trucks out of business, children will have plenty of access to “unhealthy” food.  Even if one accepts the Author’s claim that students on closed campuses leave school to obtain unhealthy food, the Bill will do nothing to curb this alleged threat.  The Bill  does not purport to ban the sale of any particular type of food.  So fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and gas station stores will continue to operate within the restricted area offering all manner of “unhealthy” food.In the last three years mobile vending has become one of the fastest growing trends in food service.  Restauranteurs have taken to the streets to deliver a wide variety of cuisines.  The mobile food facility is merely a delivery system used to service the public.  Many trucks pride themselves on providing organic healthy meals that come straight from the farmer’s market.  Even the trucks that do not promote their cuisines as health food often use only high quality ingredients in their food’s preparation.  This Bill does not differentiate between cuisines, only the delivery mechanism used by a restauranteur to serve the public.  Imagine the Bill had banned all restaurants with a drive through window from operation within 1500 feet of a school.  Healthy restaurants that wanted to service the public and provide a quick take out option would be prohibited from doing so just because of a service practice.  This Bill does not ban unhealthy food, it bans a service mechanism.The Bill’s attempt to make a statewide prohibition to address local issues simply makes no sense.  A number of Cities and Counties already have rules prohibiting mobile vendors from operating near schools while in session.  Local school districts have rules prohibiting students from leaving campus.  The Author fails to make any showing as to why the State should make these broad legislative decisions when the local authorities already have the power to do so.  If enacted this Bill would even restrict schools from holding food truck fundraisers on campuses.California is in the middle of any unprecedented financial crisis.  However, instead of using our limited legislative resources in an efficient manner, this Bill would put thousands of people out of work without actually addressing the issue of childhood obesity.  The Author claims to know what is best for every county, city, town, and school in the entire state.  This Bill will be defeated because Californians are smart enough to know there are better ways to address these issues without damaging an entire industry.Please sign our petition:  http://tinyurl.com/AB1678

Reginald Stonebody
Reginald Stonebody

Just park them here in the Tenderloin. Close to Downtown... miles away from pesky schools!

Hundertwasser
Hundertwasser

There are 5 public schools within the borders of the Tendrloin.

Heather
Heather

Annndddd, reason number one million to move to Portland.

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