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San Diego Food Trucks To Hear About Proposed Permit Rules On Wednesday

Proposed municipal code amendments that would clarify rules for food truck operators in the city of San Diego are scheduled to be heard Wednesday by the City Council's Smart Growth and Land Use Committee.

Food truck vendors have been frustrated with code provisions that make it difficult to operate on public streets, and illegal to conduct business on private property except in downtown -- and that's only if they obtain a conditional-use permit. Such trucks have exploded in popularity thanks to improved menu quality and options.

A staff report says the city's limitations on sales in the public right-of-way that "are not consistent with the current desired mobile food vending business model.''

The proposal seeks to create an entirely new land-use category for food trucks that clarifies where they're allowed to operate and which land-use regulations apply, and creates what city staff calls a "reasonable'' approval process.

The trucks would be allowed to operate without a permit in industrial zones, and with a permit in commercial and high-density residential areas. The proposal would generally prohibit them from low-density residential neighborhoods, the restaurant-heavy Gaslamp Quarter, streets near the beach and roadways close to the city's three major universities.

The permit, according to the proposal, would cost up to $935, which the staff report says is consistent with other cities.

Restaurant owners often oppose the presence of food trucks as a threat to business.

Among other proposed regulations:

-- the trucks would not be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages, general merchandise or commercial services;

-- no equipment aside from refuse containers would be allowed outside the trucks;

-- operators would be required to collect litter within a 25-foot radius of the truck before changing locations;

-- no amplified music would be allowed;

-- pedestrian and vehicular traffic should not be impaired.

Food trucks would not be allowed to operate between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, or 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday, within 500 feet of a residence. The regulations also set out how large the vehicles can be, and far away they need to park from intersections and schools.

If passed by the committee, the proposal would go before the full City Council at a later date for adoption.

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