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MP Council Debates Growing Food Truck Issue

  • By David Barron

By Tara Kwan

Food trucks are a popular phenomenon; drawing people with their convenience and tasty creations. Monterey Park itself has become a prime location for food trucks. Several food trucks can be found parked alongside the curb by the Ralph’s on Atlantic. Many people frequent these food trucks but their presence has drawn ire from some residents and local business owners.

Concerns about food trucks were raised at the Monterey Park City Council meeting on November 1st. During oral communications, a representative from Mars Investments and one of their tenants raised their concerns over the food trucks competing with local brick-and-mortar businesses for customers.

There were other issues about food trucks brought up later during the meeting such as littering in the area, blocking of the view of the driveway to Ralph’s, and obstruction of the public’s right of way on sidewalks.

The Monterey Park City Council discussed possible methods and regulations which will restrict the operation of food trucks in the city. One suggested idea to limit food trucks’ hours was to designate two hour parking. Councilmember Stephen Lam even proposed painting the entire curb in front of Ralph’s red to prevent parking but it was struck down since it would affect parking for customers and the food trucks could simply move to park elsewhere on Atlantic.

Another idea was to find either city- or privately- owned lots where the food trucks could relocate to. But this raised questions as to how the facilities will be funded and maintained as well as whether the food trucks would agree to move there if people did not frequent the area. There was talk about banning food trucks with a health rating of C or lower but Mayor Teresa Real-Sebastian opposed the unfair standards it would set. Yet another plausible suggestion was to ask food trucks to show that they had permission from Ralph’s allowing its customers to use the supermarket’s restroom facilities.

The law states that food trucks must be within 200 feet of such sanitary facilities. It may be difficult for food trucks to obtain such a letter since councilmembers said that Ralph’s has expressed concerns about heavy restroom usage, increased litter in the parking lot, and decreased sales in their bakery and deli section. However, it is unclear whether these outcomes can be directly attributed to the food trucks or a combination of other factors.

City staff was instructed to further investigate on the matter and create an ordinance to be submitted to the council as soon as possible since it has been an issue for months. Whether the impact of this ordinance on the food trucks operations will be major or negligible remains to be seen but it is certainly food (trucks) for thought!

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