Friday, August 3, 2012

Food Truck Ordinance Success!!

When I started writing about the food truck industry/trend two years ago I had a silly dream. That, starting with a blank slate and using bits and pieces of ordinances from other cities, Sacramento could piece together the best set of ordinances in the State. As the Capitol, that we could be an example for other cities to look at in this nationwide struggle of food trucks, restaurants, and Cities across the nation.

Six months ago I would have told you it was never going to happen. That all sides were at a stalemate and nothing was getting accomplished. Every meeting that we had, the same arguments were being hashed out again and again. I think a big turning point was when discussions started to take place with Councilmen Shenirer and Fong getting involved. And, although some may not agree, I personally think part of it did have to do with the break off of the NorCal (now CalMFA) trucks from SactoMoFo.

God willing and fingers crossed, we will have some great, new ordinances in place this fall. Today we left a City meeting in record time - just over an hour. All sides were happy. I even hugged Randy Paragary and told him that I was happy that I could stop my personal boycott of his restaurants. I say fingers crossed because it's not legit yet. We still have to formally go to the City's Law & Legislation Committee and then on to the full City Council. The timelime looks to be Law & Leg on September 18th and then Council a few weeks after that.

I will provide a quick summation of what was agreed upon. This does not include lots of detail items that will be built into the language.

Currently the situation is that trucks can only be at a street location for 30 minutes at a time. They have not been allowed on private property at all - even if the owner gave the O.K.

The City has been split into zones. There is a long swath through the Grid of J, K, and L streets.  In that zone they can stay 1.5 hours and must be 400 feet from another restaurant. The rest of the Grid and City is 2.5 hours on the street, with distance differences per zone.

Regarding private property, they can now go (with owners permission) for 5 hours total and no truck can return to that location for 72 hours. If there is a special event, there can be waivers.

Here's the one I have been championing since the beginning - food pods! There will be a pilot of up to 5 food pods throughout the City. For those unfamiliar, it's like a food court for trucks. A private property is built up with amenities such as seating, ATM, bathrooms, wifi, etc. Trucks can safely park there for a shift or all day. They become happening, hip places to hang out. Such pods are popular in Portland and Austin where they have been shown to decrease crime and increase property values. (To see pictures of the SF SOMA Streatfood Pod, click the link.)
My piece, "Mobile Food Pods Revitalize Neighborhoods" here.

The Sacramento food pods must be run by an Association. That's an important reason why the CalMFA was formed. Association(s) will be in charge of scheduling and maintaining the pods.

All of these items and ordinances will be reviewed at a six month and one year mark.

Perhaps my dream is coming true! Especially when you see the first food pod being developed. Maybe my dream of being a model for the State can be extended to be a model for the nation. Wouldn't that be nice?

Please read part 2: More Thoughts on Food Truck Ordinances

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