Wednesday, April 4, 2012

CA Bill Banning Food Trucks From Parking Near Schools Quashed!

California Bill Banning Food Trucks From Parking Near Schools Is Quashed
By Jonathan Kauffman Wed., Mar. 28 2012

Assemblymember Bill Monning (D.-Monterey), who recently introduced a bill requiring food trucks to park no closer than 1,500 feet from any school during school hours, has just withdrawn the bill from the state legislature.

AB-1678 raised an outcry around the state because of its potential economic impact on street food. In a dense city such as San Francisco, for example, AB-1678 would have banned food trucks from 80 percent of the city.
After pressure from industry groups and politicians, Monning first amended the bill several weeks ago so that it shrunk the no-park zone to 500 feet, or one block, from public schools.

However, mobile-food associations weren't content to let the bill stand. Matt Cohen of Off the Grid reports that Monning recently met with a group of industry associations from around the state, including Off the Grid and Southern California's AsociaciĆ³n de Loncheros. "We essentially said that criminalizing a class of food vendors when a whole other class of food establishments aren't addressed is inappropriate," Cohen says. By "other class" Cohen is referring to fast-food restaurants and convenience stores, which don't share the same restrictions.

This morning, Monning released a statement claiming that he will not give up on trying to prevent food trucks from selling unhealthy snacks to students. However, he acknowledged, "The challenge before us is working with a diverse group of stakeholders to establish a shared understanding about the adverse impacts of these practices and the necessity of a statewide legislative solution." In other words, AB-1678 needs to be thought through more closely."

Click here to read the rest of the article

Monday, February 20, 2012

Will California’s food trucks soon be illegal?

Will California’s food trucks soon be illegal?

Your help is urgently needed to make sure that food trucks are not outlawed in California.

On Tuesday Feb 14, State Assemblyman Bill Monning introduced AB 1678, which would require that all mobile food vendors park at least 1,500 feet away from a public school. That sounds reasonable, until we look at a map – for example, of Sacramento:
Everyone cares about the food and nutrition opportunities for young people. Assemblyman Monning, unfortunately, doesn't seem to realize that many schools are already serving food less healthy than many of the items sold by trucks (especially since the bill does nothing to keep unhealthy food from being sold at brick & mortar restaurants that are within that 1,500 foot limit). His legislative energy could be much better served by bringing healthier food closer to the campus, rather than driving these mobile kitchens out of business.

If you want to keep mobile vendors from being effectively outlawed in California, you need to write Assemblyman Monning today, and you need to make sure everyone you know who operates a truck or appreciates these small businesses - or who cares about fairness and competition - does as well.

Click here to read the full article

Monday, February 13, 2012

"CA Food Truck Safety Varies by County"

Momentum builds in county to provide more information to public about health status of mobile food operations
Written by Lori Weisberg

"The explosion of San Diego’s gourmet food trucks, serving everything from seared ahi and grass-fed sliders to New England lobster rolls, has brought them a level of acclaim once reserved for their brick-and-mortar rivals.

Their growing popularity, though, has yet to make them the equal of restaurants in the eyes of county health officials.

Where restaurant patrons can easily confirm the safety of the chicken, steaks and salads they’re eating by glancing at the letter-grade placard posted in the window or by going online, no such system exists for mobile food operations.

Like restaurants, the county’s 1,100 food trucks and coffee carts are regularly inspected each year by the county’s Department of Environmental Health to ensure foods are stored at the proper temperatures, there are adequate hand-washing facilities and all surfaces are properly sanitized.

Half of the trucks and carts operating in the last two years were written up for one or more violations, according to The Watchdog’s review of an inspections spreadsheet compiled by the department for internal use.

As with full-service restaurants, the food-truck infractions covered a wide range of findings, including refrigerated foods that were not kept cold enough, improper hand-washing facilities, inadequate food handler training and potentially contaminated food surfaces. In a few instances, vermin was found by inspectors.

The county does not track food truck and food cart inspections electronically, as it does with restaurant inspections. Instead, it uses paper forms to document vendors’ violations, and inspectors record some of the details electronically for departmental use. Short of asking operators to provide their latest handwritten inspection reports, there is no handy way to identify the vehicles’ level of adherence to food safety standards.

Health inspection practices vary across the state. In Orange County, even full-service restaurants are not assigned letter grades.

Los Angeles County in 2010 expanded its restaurant letter-grading system to the more than 6,000 mobile food operations there. The goal is to help the public easily distinguish between legal trucks and those that are operating illegally.

“The real difference is the illegal operations have one characteristic: They have unsafe food conditions, everything from the lack of employee sanitation to improper food temperatures to food that comes from an unapproved source that has not been inspected,” said Terrance Powell, director of Los Angeles County’s bureau of specialized surveillance and enforcement.

The department’s biggest challenge has not been issuing the letter grades but tracking down the thousands of food trucks roaming a huge, sprawling county. It still hasn’t fully transitioned to letter grades for all of the trucks.

“It’s far more important to find them now that we’re doing the grading,” Powell added. “L.A. has always had a dedicated vehicle inspection program, so it was a logical extension to do the grading, which is one more tool for the consumers to make informed decisions on who to patronize.”"

Click here to read the rest of the article

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Follow up to - Police Raid Food Trucks in Torrance

Follow up to "Police Raid Food Trucks in Torrance" school fundraiser. Read about the recent events as they were addressed at the City of Torrance City Council meeting.

"Torrance defends its enforcement actions in debate over food trucks"

By Nick Green Staff Writer

"The Torrance City Council on Tuesday rejected charges the city had unnecessarily clamped down on gourmet food trucks on school campuses during a fundraising event, even as residents pleaded for greater transparency.

"We're not changing anything," Mayor Frank Scotto said. "We wouldn't be having this meeting if all the trucks had business licenses."

But as some residents saw it, the clear-the-air meeting wouldn't have been needed had city officials effectively communicated regulatory requirements with school fundraising organizers. The gatherings of the trendy gourmet food trucks can draw hundreds of loyal foodies and generate thousands in revenue.

Tuesday's meeting came in the wake of what amounted to a police raid on a recent Yukon Elementary School fundraiser to cite unlicensed trucks.

"We felt we asked the right questions and obviously we didn't," said Cathy Beasley, a parent involved with the nonprofit Yukon Elementary Education Alliance. "We just want clear and concise rules - something easy for the food truck vendors to follow."

Despite the defensive comments by municipal officials, it appeared all involved shared a portion of the blame for the recent food truck fundraising fiasco.

Parent volunteers, as Beasley conceded, were so focused on ensuring whether the school campus gatherings needed a special events permit - they don't - the issue of whether individual trucks had the necessary city business license was overlooked. City officials, in verbally approving the gatherings, assumed organizers knew the trucks needed a $236 annual business license, which requires a $37 commercial vehicle safety inspection. They didn't.

Many food trucks, apparently believing they had received the go-ahead from city officials to attend events on school campuses, which are governed by different land-use regulations than private property, neglected to get the necessary license.

Caught in the middle were city police, who said they were simply trying to enforce "rudimentary" Vehicle Code requirements. Instead, they incurred the wrath of both event organizers and food trucks. The latter were seemingly unaccustomed to that level of regulation elsewhere in the county.

"You guys are taking it to a whole new level," food truck gathering organizer Glenn Debacca told the City Council. "We're trying to do a fundraiser."

The only concrete things the City Council did Tuesday: adopted an ordinance requiring food trucks to display the county food facility grade and refer to the Planning Commission a proposed ordinance governing food truck gatherings off school campuses.

The commission is scheduled to begin deliberations on that issue Dec. 21."

Click here to read the rest of the article.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Police Raid Food Trucks in Torrance

Read the article below, it's a great example of whats going on coast to coast. Gourmet Food Trucks are being challenged and harassed. The harassment comes in may forms, but this example shows the waste of tax payer money at the hands of the police. Whats interesting is no one in power in the City of Torrance seems to know who ordered the raid. Was it the mayor, or restaurant owners with friends in the police dept? Who knows, everyone points the finger at each other.

The unfortunate thing is this was a School Fundraiser and who was the BIGGEST looser, our children.

Dan, Save the Food Trucks

"Torrance food-truck raid outrages fundraisers"
By Nick Green Staff Writer
Posted: 11/25/2011 05:46:02 PM PST

"One moment, 13 invited food trucks were serving hundreds of diners on a Torrance elementary school campus at an educational fundraiser.

The next moment, the long-planned event had come to a screeching halt, as police raided the gathering and issued citations to trucks without business licenses, prompting some to hurriedly head for the exits.

"It looked like some sort of weird druglord movie where the cops were coming and everyone is running for the hills," said William Mackey, a director with the Yukon Elementary Academic Alliance, a nonprofit group affiliated with the north Torrance school of the same name.

"Trucks were packing up as fast as they could," he added. "People were moving tables to avoid getting hit by the (fleeing) trucks."

And when the gathering was over, six food trucks had been cited, angry parents had verbally assailed the responding officers, the school fundraiser was a total bust and the supposedly business-friendly city of Torrance was left with a major public relations problem on its hands."

"I was really ticked off (last) Friday, as were both the parents and staff from Yukon," said Mike Beasley, president of the alliance. "We thought we had the assurances from the city that as long as the event was held on school grounds we wouldn't have any issues. And we made those assurances to the food truck people.

"We looked pretty bad," Beasley added. "We felt like we set them up. We've pretty much damaged the reputation of Yukon and I'm not sure we can ever get that group (of food trucks) back."
Mayor Frank Scotto denied that city officials had planned in advance to bust food trucks serving food without a license.

"That was not supposed to have happened," he said. "There was no intent to do that.

"We've got better things to do than set up catering trucks to get busted," Scotto added. "We don't need the bad PR. They just need to follow the rules and there would be no issues with this."

Organizers, however, aren't convinced city officials are being completely forthright.

Beasley noted that, in particular, one officer involved in the raid seemed evasive.

"He did say his boss specially told him to come check us out," Beasley said. "When I asked him who his boss was, all he said was Scotto would know who his boss was. He didn't give me a lot of straight answers."

Straight answers can be difficult to come by in the ever-evolving industry of gourmet food trucks - and the patchwork of regulations that affect them.

The trucks have thousands of devoted fans, many of whom follow their constantly changing locations via Twitter.

But authorities, as Scotto acknowledges, have had mixed success in regulating them.

Food trucks have been punted out of a variety of locations in such cities as Carson and Torrance as well as places such as Alpine Village, which is in unincorporated Los Angeles County. Earlier this year, organizers of the Torrance Block Party in Old Torrance had hoped to include food trucks at the event, but encountered resistance from city officials."

Click here to read the rest of the article!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Help Save The New York City Food Trucks!!

Sign the petition!
Due to a recent court ruling in February, it is now illegal to sell food from a food truck at a metered parking spot in New York City (including the outer boroughs.)

We believe that food trucks are great for New York.

Let's work together to come up with a solution that keeps food trucks alive and well in our town.