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Taco Truck Thugs - squashing the little guy by outlawing street food

What if you couldn't by a hot dog or lemon ice from a NY street vendor? No street hawkers in Asia? No street eats in Latin America ...etc, etc?

The city of Salinas is trying to ban taco trucks. This trend is also happening in other cities in the US.

If the food wasn't tasty and serving a purpose, street food wouldn't exist. There would be no reason for laws if no one was making money. Isn't that the whole point to free enterprise?

There is a great article today on KQED's Bay Area Bites blog about this situation that mentions Chowhound and Melanie Wong's Salinas Street Food report. At the end of the article there is a link to a map of the Salinas Street Food that has a summery of what those trucks make best and links back to Melanie's original reports and a recent Salinas Taco Truck crawl by a dozen Chowhounds ... I'm counting the chihuahua.
http://www.kqed.org/weblog/food/2007/...

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  1. What a shame! I can sadly say they never even allowed street vendors in our little city of Naples, FL--I don't live in the city limits but I believe the prevailing notion is that the vendors would be an "eyesore." Harumph! What a bunch of bull. Hopefully, the working folks in Salinas will rise up.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Val

      Over 800 people signed a petition to support the mobile vendors.

      It is my understanding that moved the politicians to draft the upcoming proposal to place even further restrictions on the vendors. I have a great line (to me) that I will squelch out of respect for the focus of Chowhound on food and not politics.

      From a strictly food point of view, these vendors provide food not found elsewhere ... the food from the little-known towns and regions. The food that a mainstream restaurant ... big or small ... won't put on the menu because of the financial risk.

      In California, the brick and morter Mexican restaurants have been carefully coached. Serve dishes the gringos like and will buy..

      The street vendors haven't learned those rules and most of the vendors have customers who want the regional specialties ... vuelve a la vida, Acambaro-style al pastor, a beef and tripe campechana with a fascinating regional connection, etc, etc, etc. Even more common items like champurrado or elote are rarely available in restaurants.

      Through local taco trucks I've eaten dishes from all over Mexico, most in the $2 price range. It has been a culinary education that I would not have even been able to dream up on my own, no matter how many books I read. Most of this food isn't in the cookbooks anyway. It is not important enough.

      I have eaten better. I've learned alot ... about food, about Latin America, about the people. It is hard to hate someone when you get to know them and share thier food.

      1. re: Val

        My father-in-law lives in Naples (Benita Springs actually), and he would definetly be against street vendors as they would probably "bring down property values".

        A lot of ethnic restaurants get started with their trucks and streetside carts and save up money to cover the astronomical costs of setting up a restaurant. The Taco trucks have just become part of the Bay Area landscape.

        1. re: Fussy Foodie

          Gently pointing out: I fail to see how a truck selling tacos hurts anyone's property values...they are not permanent and they would only operate on business district streets where folks are walking around at lunchtime or after work or maybe even at the beaches...imagine that! As it stands now, there aren't any concession stands to speak of at the beaches here. To me, everyone would benefit by being able to buy an inexpensive lunch or snack from a truck vendor; well, everyone except for the overpriced restaurants on 5th Avenue--bingo!

          1. re: Val

            I meant it sarcastically, poking fun at how stuck up my F-I-L is and how so many people in southwest Florida (well... at least the ones I met) are so concerned with property values. I guess sarcasm isn't that easy to pick up in writing.

            I fully support food trucks. They offer a nice, cheap alternative to the traditional restaurant, and give talented (usually ethnic) cooks with little means a chance to get started in the business.

            1. re: Fussy Foodie

              It's true - that is the rationale given by the me-firsters. Of course, these are the same people who rail against low-cost housing in their community: they want service people (mostly latin housekeepers, gardeners, nannies, landscapers, etc) but they don't want "those people" to live near them - and they certainly don't want to be exposed to their food or culture. It's too bad really. Gated communities and homogenous suburbs have done more to reinforce and expand this growing American isolationism and fear of the other than anything else.

              Taking the taco trucks away is just another way to whitewash cities and make them more appealing to middle- and upper-class people and further marginalize working class people and immigrants of all income levels.

              1. re: hewn

                Let me add that they are the first ones to complain about the price of thier meals wherever and whenever they eat, unless of course they get a senior discount.

                1. re: hewn

                  applause, applause for Hewn's and Jim's comments.

        2. http://www.chowhound.com/topics/409977

          here's the thread on the taco crawl in Salinas— it's the direct connection, the shared smiles, the good food that draws me back to taco trucks.
          —it's as close as I can get to sitting at someone's kitchen table... you'd understand if you'd been standing next to me at Julio Valdez's cart, East Market Street at Ivy Street in Salinas...chowing on grilled corn on the cob with cotilla cheese and cayenne... the bacon wrapped Mexican hot dog with mayo and cotilla or con todo... the sweet tamals of corn or pina with raisins...champurrado — Senor Valdez remembers our "la jefa" as a regular!

          1. What a shame. Somehow it seems motivated by more then just economics. If John Steinbeck were alive today, I wonder what he'd say about the situation.

            12 Replies
            1. re: ML8000

              Ironically most of these vendors are located within a few blocks of the Steinbeck Museum ... ironic, eh? I wonder if the museum has a cafe and what it serves?

              1. re: rworange

                I suspect that if enough people show up at a city council meeting (which I assume would be the place to discuss this before it's enacted) and request time to speak, at least the voices will be heard. It's worth a try.

                1. re: Val

                  They did already. This is a second or third go around. Many of the vendors are unaware of the action and the first meeting was during the winter when many of these trucks close for the rainy winter months or are following field workers in other parts of the country. Some of these vendors have been in business for over a decade.

                  1. re: rworange

                    Sounds like a real ambush job to me, Something sneaky cooked up by existing restaurants most likely. What cowards, try competing on quality and price for once!

                    1. re: majhordan

                      Since no one else is going to say it...seems like there's a good bit of xenophobia and class-ism (to use neutral terms) going on to call for an outright ban of all trucks. Sort of reminds me of Monterey Park back in the last '80s. It's really too bad Steinbeck isn't still around because he'd rip all the standard bearers new ones.

                      1. re: ML8000

                        Given the demographiscs of Salinas, I'm not sure the xenophobia is a big part of it. As far as classism, there probably is some of the "we were here first" thinking going on.

                        Without knowing the makeup of the group backing the ordinance I'd find it hard to really speculate.

                        1. re: Scrapironchef

                          I am extremely familiar with the demographics of the area, and I would suspect that Scrapironchef is closer to the target: it's a class issue, not necessarily a race issue (although ethnicity comes into it).

                          There's this false class consciousness among middle-class and wealthy Latino citizens that they will be more readily accepted into prevailing white American culture if they reject the more "primitive" trappings of their culture. It's too bad, really. And history shows us that it's only the first and second generation who feel this way: third generation immigrants are much more likely to want to regain those symbols of their culture.

                          Save the taco trucks!

                2. re: rworange

                  Well Salinas is ironic, as least relating to Steinbeck. The city and region absolutely hated him while he was alive and for his muck raking...probably would have tarred and feathered him. Of course now they have a museum it's all good...except it seems their up to their old tricks.

                  1. re: ML8000

                    Yes, Steinbeck was much reviled during his lifetime. He would never let the city name anything after him while he was alive.

                    The Steinbeck center had a couple cafes. I liked the last one, Chicken Scratch Flats, but it has closed due to insufficient night time business.

                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                      ML8000/MelanieWong: If John Steinbeck could ...

                      A letter from John Steinbeck to the Salinas Californian newspaper in response to the suggestion in naming a school after him.

                      "...So far only my first name has been given to an institution.
                      Perhaps it is well to inspect honors in the light of reason lest the footprints in the concrete disclose a bunion. Do the proposers of this naming wish to subject my name to the unborn generations of young Salinians? Think of the millions to whom the name Horse Mann is a dirty word.
                      But the danger of the situation is not only aimed at me. Consider, if you will, the disastrous result if some innocent and talented student should look into my own scholastic record, seeking perhaps for inspiration. Why his whole ambition might crash in flames.
                      In view of these sober afterthoughts, and being still shaken by the compliment implied, I hope the Board of Trustees will think very carefully before taking this irrevocable step.
                      If the city of my birth should wish to perpetuate my name clearly but harmlessly, let it name a bowling alley after me or a dog track or even a medium price, low-church brothel
                      --but a school--!"
                      In humble appreciation.
                      John Stenbeck

                      Peace Pakkai

                  2. re: rworange

                    rw sez - Ironically most of these vendors are located within a few blocks of the Steinbeck Museum ... ironic, eh? I wonder if the museum has a cafe and what it serves?

                    Per Melanie - The Steinbeck center had a couple cafes. I liked the last one, Chicken Scratch Flats, but it has closed due to insufficient night time business.

                    I'm sure there is no connection.

                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                      The closest truck to the Steinbeck Center that I've been able to find is more than a mile away. There are several long-established restaurants on the same block and more in a two-block radius that the cafe competes with. The last operator was quoted as saying that night time business from the new movie theatre complex and parking structure on the same block didn't materialize as expected.

                  1. As big a fan as I am of (some) taco trucks, they are not all perfect and holy bastions of free enterprise.

                    Many skirt local zoning laws because of their "mobile" status. They can provide unrealistic competition to local businesses that have paid their dues. They are intrinsically harder to regulate than fixed locations. How many do you think accurately report and pay the sales taxes due to local communities?

                    I'm not in favor of banning them, but some balance has to be struck between transients and businesses that are located in the community. How many of us could survive if someone had the right to park in front of our businesses and provide the same goods and services without the overhead?

                    20 Replies
                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                      I see that you are in favor of government by special interests. Chasing away the taco trucks will diminish the quality of Salinas in my opinion. Let's make the whole city a homogenized processed place with only high end sit down restaurants, shall we?

                      That benefits only a few restaurant owners at the expense of the population who will have a lot less choice about where to eat out.

                      1. re: majhordan

                        Not what I said, re read my post and try not to put words in my mouth.

                      2. re: Scrapironchef

                        I frequent a few taco trucks in LA. I'm not saying they should be banned, but there have to be limitations and regulations. I hate when they occupy metered parking spaces in downtown LA for free. I'm against street vendors who have no permits (health or business) and sell food on street corners, in shopping centers and in our city parks.

                        I know I'd be fuming if I were a restaurant owner and these trucks were parked in front of my business competing unfairly . Legitimate brick & mortar business owners have a right to protect their turf.

                        Not living in Salinas I can only believe that maybe there are too many of those trucks which have an economic effect on legitimate brick and mortar business and possibly an eyesore to the community. I'm sure the result will be a limitation on the number of permits issued and not an all out ban.

                        1. re: monku

                          If people got together to do true problem solving... perhaps someone would think to create an indoor mercado with formal food stalls like the one in Berkeley... and THEN limit the # of trucks to a number that would still allow mobile workers a way to get a decent hot meal.

                          1. re: Eat_Nopal

                            There's an indoor taco truck market in Berkeley!!? That would be great, but I
                            think you're talking about the Emeryville Public Market? That's an interesting
                            case. It was essentially the vision of one guy on the city council who pushed it
                            through. It was about the same time as the Berkeley Bowl was looking
                            to expand out of their old bowling alley location and others were trying to get
                            them in there. But something like that takes a lot of solid work by someone
                            determined and in a position to make it happen. Does Salinas have that person?

                            Here's an interesting if long and somewhat inconclusive paper about Mexico
                            City's attempt 15 years ago to move their street vendors off the street into
                            newly constructed markets. it was apparently not a tremendous success, was
                            done for entirely orthogonal political reasons, and may not have any applicability
                            to the Salias question at all ...

                            http://www.cs.uwaterloo.ca/~alopez-o/...

                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                              One vendor I spoke with said he had tried to join SUBA, but vendors are not allowed to be members. There is a shortage of space in the Alisal district, which was acknowledged as one of challenges of transitioning in SUBA's letter of Dec. 11, 2006, that was handed out at the January hearing. I've checked the listings and driven around the area extensively and there are no vacancies for small properties.

                              1. re: Melanie Wong

                                Wonderful - talk about representative governmetn! This group won't even LET the minority group become members. That's really disgusting.

                                1. re: hewn

                                  Geez, what a bunch of elitist b*stards. I bet their board of directors is a bunch of fat cat businessmen running huge conglomerates and franchise steamroller corporations!

                                  Let's find out who they are then we can hate them righteously!

                                  http://www.subasalinas.com/about.html

                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                    I don't know about all those other adjectives you're trying to put in people's mouths, but "elitist" sounds appropriate for a business association that won't let other legitimate business owners join because their businesses don't meet their standards.

                                    1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                      Do we know that is why they were't allowed to join? It looks like some pretty small businesses are on the BoD. As much as I respect Melanie, we don't know both sides.

                                      1. re: Scrapironchef

                                        I see. You don't know, but you're questioning someone who does.

                                        1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                          Actually I dropped them an email to find out what the requirements are.

                                          Some business groups that qualify for public funding, which this one may as they are focused on redevelopment, may be restricted from having members whose businesses are based outside the development zone. That is usually determined by the address on the business license. Let's not rush to judgement on the basis of one conversation Melanie had.

                                          I'll post my response from SUBA when I get it.

                                2. re: Melanie Wong

                                  My post was removed, but I HIGHLY recommend reading that link about the Mexico City vendors. It mirrors everything said by the SUBA and shows why that didn't work.

                                  1. re: rworange

                                    It's also Mexico and one of the most corrupt government structures on the planet. Just because they couldn't change things doesn't mean there weren't problems.

                                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                                      Wow. Please back up your facts. Have you been to Mexico other than briefly as a tourist?

                                      1. re: rworange

                                        Believe it or not I have friends from there, I rely on there experience as a guide as well as media reports from multiple sources.

                                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                                      According to the source, only brick and mortar businesses are allowed, not street vendors. I have not verified this with SUBA.

                              2. re: monku

                                In the situations you describe, what needs to be done is for existing laws and regulations (parking, food permits, etc.) to be enforced. People who are doing business illegally will continue to do business; only those people who are trying to do business legitimately (and if they have a permit, they're as legitimate as any other business) are hurt by a ban.

                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                  Problem in Los Angeles is enforcement. Los Angeles County Department of Health doesn't have enough man power and LAPD has enough on their plate without worrying about illegal vendors.

                                  I do have a problem with people who don't have permits to sell food. No matter what people say they are a "potential" danger to the health and safety of the public. (please note I used the word "potential")

                            2. That SUCKS!, I've eaten many good meals from those trucks in so cal, and used to hit a particular one in Hayward every time i had to go out there,people there people out there that want to control every aspect of our lives PLEASE ,PLEASE FIGHT IT WHENEVER POSSIBLE!,this is no different that someone taking a dislike to the way you make a living,and trying to ban that for whatever reason, and I seriously doubt the property values story. If there are issues such as health,well those can be policed, i love these trucks, some are good some aren't,like another eatery,I really hope these guys survive,good luck!

                              1. The taco trucks probably don't really compete with the brick and mortar places, but could bring reknown and more diners to Salinas. The population of the Salinas Valley is large enough to include a large segment of restaurant and fast food customers who would never go to a Taco truck. The trucks likely serve laborers, poor residents, and the small group of CHers--all of whom would but rarely patronize the other places anyway.

                                56 Replies
                                  1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                    If that was the reality why would this even be an issue? Sorry, but there must be something going on that's driving this. Is the group behind the ordinance made up of resto owners or is it other businesses with their own concerns?

                                    Even in as large an area as Salinas, there is a finite amount of dining dollars. The trucks can hang about and skim dollars out of an area until it becomes unprofitable, then drive elsewhere and reopen. B&Ms don't have that mobility so are perhaps a little more sensitive to this issue.

                                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                                      >> there is a finite amount of dining dollars. The trucks can hang
                                      >> about and skim dollars out of an area until it becomes
                                      >> unprofitable, then drive elsewhere and reopen.

                                      That doesn't make any sense. Certainly on any given day, the number of available
                                      dollars is finite. But each day that amount is renewed. So the act of selling food
                                      to people for some amount of time is not going to somehow make people no longer
                                      able to purchase food.

                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                        Stop thinking short term, across the course of a year there are vast seasonal variations in discretionary income available. The good times get you throught he lean times. If during the profitable times additional vendors can move into your area with little or no barriers and pull up stakes and leave during the lean times, pretty soon all your times are lean times. B&Ms have an awful lot of expenses piled on them by law that Rubber and Steels don't - have you ever tried to comply with the rules for ADA/Handicap in a commercial bathroom rebuild? The costs can exceed the price paid for some of these trucks. As a sit down fixed location you are required to provide restrooms for your customers. A truck can park at the same place all day for 10 years and never have to meet that requirement even though it serves twice the customers.

                                        Many CHer's love to go down and visit Taco Truck Land for a day of fun and food and then leave, but the residents of Salinas have to live with them 365 days a year. Their perspective on this may be different than ours, not everybody who lives in Anaheim is enamored of Disney.

                                        1. re: Scrapironchef

                                          >> Stop thinking short term, across the course of a year
                                          >> there are vast seasonal variations

                                          Good point. I hadn't considered it from that perspective. However, in an area
                                          where there *is* a vast seasonal variation, isn't a predominantly mobile
                                          restaurant population exactly the right thing?

                                          What the Salinas restaurant owners are advocating is a sports stadium economic model. The sports stadium artificially restricts outside vendors from selling food on stadium property in order to maximize revenue for the inside vendors. This rarely results in good food, good values for customers, a sustainable local economy. And even with the regulatory help, captive audience, and arbitrarily high prices it's rare that a stadium vendor's entire business consists of a single stadium restaurant.

                                          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                            I'm sorry, I missed the Salinas Resto Owners Associations postion on this, do you have a cite?

                                            An area can absorb some mobile vendors coming in to cherry pick the high season, witness any resort area. However when the barriers for entry are low and too many arrive, everybody starves.

                                          2. re: Scrapironchef

                                            "not everybody who lives in Anaheim is enamored of Disney"

                                            BUT.... they are enamored with their taco trucks!!!

                                              1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                Not on their private property, and there have been many documented examples of Disney security moving them and other Latino vendors off public streets adjoining their properties. They have unsuccessfully, so far, tried to lobby the city council to outlaw such vendors as well. Luckily, there are usually only 2 members of the council completely in Disney's pocket.

                                        2. re: Scrapironchef

                                          Scrap, agree with Clone: you have the demand elasticities off. I don't have a fixed dining out budget. If I lived in Salinas and there were no trucks, I still wouldn't go to fast food places. I would still go to some sit down Mexican restaurants a few times a year to eat and drink beer with friends--trucks or no trucks. The addition of the trucks would mean I would go out to eat more--my willingness to spend would be "elastic" relative to the new supply of something I want--tacos from a truck. But the trucks wouldn't change my spending behavior relative to the B&Ms.

                                          1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                            Sam your spending would be elastic but still finite and fungible over any given period of time. Money you didn't spend at trucks would still likely be spent somewhere, whether for food or for something else.

                                            Are you saying that if your favorite truck closed down and opened a resto you would not eat there as often as you hit that truck? Is it the food or the standing on the sidewalk that you like?

                                            I will repeat again since it seems to be unclear I AM NOT IN FAVOR OF BANNING TACO TRUCKS. There, simple enough. I do understand how some residents in Salinas might want to limit the growth of this industry. B&M's face limits and I don't think it unfair to expect the same for the trucks. Looking at the map in the link Melanie provided shows a worrisome density/clustering, these could have substantial effects on local neighborhoods in terms of traffic, noise, trash etc..

                                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                                              I think what is interesting about your posts is that as someone who has opened a restaurant, your perspective is exactly the same and almost mirrors the arguments I've read by the Salinas United Business Association (SUBA) which initiated this.

                                              The difference is that SUBA doesn't want to limit mobile businesses they want to eliminate them.

                                              This is a program started by the town of Salinas 50 years ago in 1957. The city of Salinas chose not to limit the number of licenses. It would seem to me the fairer thing for SUBA to request was a limit on licenses and maybe some limits that would be beneficial to both sides ... like say a review of where a vendor proposes to sell.

                                              The map concentrates a large area into a small picture. If blown up to the largest size, the trucks are more spread out than it appears.

                                              I'm with Sam that my needs as a consumer are different in terms of a taco truck and B&M. I live in a town filled with taco trucks, so it is not a fun excursion for me. It is part of my daily dining choices.

                                              If all the taco trucks were gone, it wouldn't drive me to the B&M restaurants. I would eat at McDonald's, El Pollo Loco, Jack in the Box, etc.

                                              I don't think SUBA is going to get a flood of new business ... or even a dollar more ... when the taco trucks are gone ... unless they own fast food restaurants.

                                              1. re: rworange

                                                My perspective is informed by my own experience, that doesn't make it wrong or me a mouthpiece for SUBA.

                                                You think the SUBA actually thinks they'll succeed with an outright ban? It's called haggling, start with a number and bargain back and forth from there, they're starting with 0, the trucks are starting at infinity, I'm sure they'll settle somewhere in between.

                                                As far as the 50 year old "no limits" philosophy, are you really advocating keeping that? Nothing has changed in that time that might make you want to re-examine it?

                                                I did blow up the map the density is still high for "mobile" businesses.

                                                The Richmond taco truck fleet is primarily based on private property in fixed locations. I live here too. The debate is about Salinas though, and you don't live there, you only go for the occasional visit to Taco Truck Land (TM).

                                                You've reviewed any number of B&Ms in the Richmond/San Pablo/El Sobrante Metroplex, are you honestly telling me that you would choose McDs over La Guarecita?

                                                Before you condemn SUBA you might want to check out their website and get to know them. You might find it harder to hate them. http://www.subasalinas.com/index.html

                                                If you just want to read a copy of their position on mobile vendors here's a PDF of their memo to the city council. http://www.subasalinas.com/PDF/MEMO_t...

                                                It raises some valid issues.

                                                1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                  "You've reviewed any number of B&Ms in the Richmond/San Pablo/El Sobrante Metroplex, are you honestly telling me that you would choose McDs over La Guarecita? "

                                                  Have and do. I eat more frequenly at McD's than La Guarecita. It is convenient and near me. For me, making an effort to eat better is getting out of the car and buying a taco from the truck.

                                                  That being said, because I have the trucks available nearby, I eat less and less fast food and kind of drive by FF with a look of pity at the saps eating there ... there but for the grace of taco trucks go I.

                                                  I am not anti-SUBA or other small businesses. From visiting the many small restaurants in the area, I have an idea about what it takes to get that business set up and from all the failed places I loved, think that some of the regulatory hoops to run that type of business are unreasonable and detrimental.

                                                  Since this has been going on months, I don't see anything that says SUBA is bargaining or playing business poker. In fact in that link you provide SUBA goes through solutions and how they will fail and states ...

                                                  "The decision before the City cannot be about striking a balance (arriving at a compromise) between what Group A wants and what Group B wants."

                                                  That memo you link to starts ...

                                                  "The purpose of this memo is to draw your attention to at least three instances where the City's existing or proposed mobile vendor ordinances may and/or will be incompatible with the State's Health and Safety Codes. In each instance, we believe the City's commitment to promote and protect the public's health and safety is compromised."

                                                  Um ... 3 instances in 50 years ... yep, let's shut them down. Three addressable issues by other means.

                                                  The issues are
                                                  - regulations to have a rest room within 200 feet
                                                  - the use of a commisary to clean the truck once a day
                                                  - they must be inspected

                                                  Uh ... again ... shut them down.

                                                  I am touched by SUBA's concern that the vendors are in the unfortante situtation of choosing between complying with those laws and not making enough money ... concern with the vendors struggle to feed their families and being unable to do so.

                                                  Caring people. Didn't realize this came out of concern for fellow business people.

                                                  While SUBA recognizes that these vendors have entered into agreements with local businesses to provide bathroom facilities for their employees to comply with the law, they have a concern about what these poor employees do when those businesses close at night and may not have access for hours at a time.

                                                  Touching. So caring about other people's employees.

                                                  I wonder though why they propose then that these trucks only operate between the hours of 6pm and 6am?

                                                  As to the trucks going to a commissary to be cleaned daily ... what oh what do the vendors do if the commissary is closed ... let's change the hours to ensure they can't comply.

                                                  As to inspection, the issue is that the board of heatlth closes at 5pm. How oh how do these trucks get inspected? They operate past 5pm ... uh, like every fast food joint in town?

                                                  Again, let them only operate AFTER inspection hours.

                                                  WHAT?

                                                  Yet with all these concerns ... they never bothered to interview the vendors for the answers.

                                                  SUBA provided not one .... NOT ONE ... documented incident where in the 50 years of operation, there was an actual instance when the public's health and safety was compromised.

                                                  No one has said taco trucks deserve special status or are sacred. They have been peacefully and safely doing business in town for 50 years. Let it be business as usual.

                                                  Like Ruth, I think a licensed taco truck deserves the same rights and protections as any other business.

                                                  Thanks for providing the link to the SUBA site and that document.

                                                  If you look at SUBA's vision for 2017 it is to make Salinas the jewel of the Silicon Valley. Look at the Stepford picture they have of their vision of what the streets will look like. I wonder where they plan to get the people to populate the town. Salinas is a town of farms and farm workers ... they don't have a big rodeo there every year for nothing.

                                                  Taco Trucks are not jewels to SUBA ... though they provide an income and employment to hundreds of people ... though they provide necessary food services to a good portion of the local working population ... though they serve interesting dishes from various regions of Mexico that aren't available elsewhere.

                                                  That is not defined as being a jewel. They are mobile advertisements that Salinas has a working and poor class. Taco trucks are not pretty or sexy.

                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                    As a patron, I will guarantee you that your estimation of the difficulty of opening and operating a resto is off by orders of magnitude. Mine was and I grew up in a 3 generation resto family.

                                                    So SUBA is in it for a long game. It aint over til it's over.

                                                    The 3 instances they cite are not events that occured, they are actual conflicts between reality and the policy that happen every day. They have not been fixed since January, what should be done?

                                                    Where do you think the employees are going to the bathroom after they lose access to the local business? Just wondering..

                                                    I don't get the 6-6 thing either. But I'd bet the commisaary would be open to accomodate them, that would be serving their customer.

                                                    50 year old taco trucks? Which one? This I've got to see!

                                                    The policy is 50 years old and may need some tuning to recognize current realities.

                                                    I'm not proposing getting rid of them, but what if Taco Bell showed up with a fleet of 50 trucks and started running them? Where would you fall on limitations then?

                                                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                      Please re-read the link to the document you provided.

                                                      The words are "may and/or will be " ... not "are" or we specifically observed this at this specific truck on this date. You can't fix what isn't documented ... what may or may not have happened or will happen in the future.

                                                      SUBA talks about raising the same issue in 2005 in that document.

                                                      I don't have the answer to the question about facilities since SUBA didn't know if this was even an issue.

                                                      I re-read my post and I'm missing where it says anything about 50 year old taco trucks or was that an attempt at levity since in the next sentence it acknowledges the 50 year old policy.

                                                      Again, as you are someone speaking from the perspective of a restaurant owner, it illustrates the difficulty in this situation of trying to resolve a situation based on supposition and not reality ... what if 50 Taco Bell trucks showed up?

                                                      I only know the facts. The mobile vending operation has been in business for 50 years. They serve the needs of the local community or they wouldn't continue to be in businss. Nothing by SUBA states any change in operation in recent years or documents a specific incident. But please provide links if there are any.

                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                        The trucks have not been operating for 50 years, mobile vending has been allowed for 50 years. You only mentioned the 10 year old one in terms of longevity and I was trying to facetiously make the point that most of the trucks are a lot less than 50 years old.

                                                        My point was that I don't think the original policy envisioned todays situation. If you have the ability to see fifty years into the future and craft perfect unerring public policy, congratulations. I think there might be some merit to revisiting the policy myself. Regulatiosn change all the time, a limit on the number of trucks and and where they operate makes them follow roughly the same rules other businesses follow.

                                              2. re: Scrapironchef

                                                *sigh* I wish you could actually see what you're talking about. Taco trucks produce substantially less trash than, say, a "bricks and morter" fast food place, with their huge amounts of packaging (everything wrapped individually, and then put in a bag), or a convenience store (I live down the block from one, so I know all about the trash they generate). They all also have trash cans. But even more, unlike a fast-food place run by minimum wage drones, they have pride in their business and want to keep it clean. Look at Melanie's pictures from out Salinas crawl. Do you see a trash problem?

                                                I remember one taco crawl where we arrived at a favorite truck of mine just as they were setting up. The owner had a hose out and was hosing down the parking area around the truck. The bricks and morter business that owned the parking lot didn't do that -- the taco truck owner did. Furthermore, unlike a bricks and morter restaurant, taco trucks don't have a dumpster outside the back door attracting all kinds of vermin to the area.

                                                As for the effect on the neighborhood -- the "worrisome cluster" you noted is a commerical/industrial area, not a "neighborhood" where traffic and noise are an issue. If taco trucks were congregating in residential neighborhoods then I'd agree that was a problem. But most taco trucks don't generate much traffic relative to that already existing in commercial areas, especially since the whole point is to go where the workers are so they don't have to get in a car -- if they even have a car -- and go somewhere to get lunch. Given that, and the fact that the time customers spend at the truck is very short, they might actually reduce parking and traffic problems.

                                                As for the question of whether it's the food or the standing on the sidewalk, since some of my favorite taco trucks also have sit-down locations, I'd have to say that when I patronize a taco truck, I'm specifically patronizing it because it's a truck. For me, the choice isn't to eat Mexican food at a truck or a sit-down, it's to eat at a truck instead of some other kind of fast food/takeout establishment. Since I don't patronize places like McDonald's and I live in an area adjacent to a concentration of taco trucks, that's the role they fill for me.

                                                The most direct competitors of taco trucks are not the Mom and Pop bricks and morter places, but places like In-N-Out and Carl's Jr., both of which I noted have locations in the area where the taco trucks "cluster." How do we know it's not those corporate giants (or their local franchisees), rather than small independents, that aren't the motivating force behind the proposed elimination of taco trucks?

                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                  The most concise counterargument to the Salinas restauranteurs' argument is "Fruitvale". Trucks and restaurants exist in a thriving ecosystem. In some cases the trucks are outposts of restaurants, allowing them to flexibly expand their reach. In other cases, entirely separate trucks station themselves in other restaurant's parking lots. And both do well.

                                                  It's important to recognize the myth of competition. In many cases, especially with restaurants, if restaurant A can serve 100 meals a day and restaurant B can serve 100 meals a day, putting them close together creates a restaurant zone where 250 meals can be sold a day.

                                                  The only restaurant businesses which would see a benefit from reduced competition are those which are selling food as a commodity: fast food restaurants. I wouldn't be at all surprised to find In and Out behind the events in Salinas.

                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                    Fruitvale has a higher residential and business density which will support that, but again this is Salinas that is being debated. Do we know if the same is true? If so, aproximately how many before the number bcomes a problem?

                                                    The myth of competition is not infinitely extensible, while it may be true for the first 10 adds to an area's capacity, it starts to break at 50 or 100.

                                                    Why all the In-N-Out Haters? Do you know something about them I don't? Remember, they're a family run business also, they don't deserve to succeed?

                                                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                      Characterizing In-N-Out a family-run business is really silly in the context of this discussion. I have nothing against In-N-Out, but the family is running the business from their corporate headquarters, not flipping burgers in Salinas, nor do I think a few taco trucks is going to be much of an obstacle to their success.

                                                      I thought competition was the holy grail of the American free-enterprise system -- our system gives enough advantages to big businesses without granting them special protection against competition. If bricks and morter businesses really can't compete with taco trucks, then they can get their own taco trucks (as many restaurants in Oakland have).

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        Others have mentioned that some trucks are actually run by restos as a way of extending their reach, should they be excluded from this discussion? After all they're being run by a "corporate" headquarters elsewhere.

                                                        Should the discussion be limited to only trucks run by their owners on site? What about those days when employees are staffing it? Is it a different type of business then?

                                                        My point was that there are a lot of companies I could believe might be pushing this issue, but In-N-Out is at the far end of that list. They have quietly set standards for doing well by doing good. Yes, taco trucks aren't a threat to them, making your accusation even less reasonable.

                                                  2. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                    Guess what? if you sak for something packed to go from a taco truck it ends up with the same amunt of packaging you get at the local bricks and mortar taqueria. If you dine in at a taqueria the landfills end up with about the same amount as they would from a truck. Comparing them to McDs is somewhat specious as those are not the alternatives most on this board would choose.

                                                    As far as hosing out a parking lot, I'd be willing to bet that was a requirement by the parking lot/business owner. The taco truck doesn't have garbage in a dumpster at that site, but it does somewhere.

                                                    Traffic and noise aren't a concern in a commercial area? Let me in on your cite for that, I may need in next time I go up in front of a zoning board.

                                                    So if the trucks weren't there and a B&M taqueria was serving the same thing you wouldn't go there? What have you got against buildings? I get the aversion to clown based restos, many people fear clowns, but a generalized avoidance of buildings, that must make life tough for you.

                                                    I'd have to disagree with you on the direct competition issue. One of the premises you and others assert is that these trucks provide food and options the chains don't and that they are not interchangeable. I think the closest and most affected would be other small standalone taquerias run by the same type of people running the trucks.

                                                    While I have huge philosophical differences with Carl's Jr over the causes they support, In-N-Out is a family business that actually gets it, I think you may be a bit off base in that accusation.

                                                    Again, I'm not against trucks, (standard disclaimer), I just don't think they are sacrosanct icons that deserve special status.

                                                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                      I thought I was perfectly clear: most of the times I patronize a taco truck it's because I want the convenience of "fast food"; I don't have anything against buildings, any more than someone who uses the drive-through window at McDonalds rather than going inside has something against buildings. That's the function they play in my eating: fast, cheap and convenient ... and delicious.

                                                      Of course I'm only speaking for myself -- I'm sure reasons people have for patronizing taco trucks are as varied as those for any other buying decision.

                                                      I don't think taco trucks deserve special status -- I don't think anyone has said or even implied that. I think a licensed taco truck deserves the same rights and protections as any other business. As for noise ... in an area populated by machine shops served by semis, I doubt a taco truck (or even two or three) could be considered a significant source of noise.

                                                      1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                        But you wouldn't walk into a taqueria serving the same thing just as fast at the same prices? Here in Richmond that's ussually the case. Even if you could take it out and eat at the table outside or in your car? I guess I still don't see the _need_ for the truck. 50% of the ones I've been to are below average.

                                                        1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                          I'd be less likely to, yes. Why does McDonalds have drive-thru windows, even though the food is the same price and just as fast inside? It's not the same.

                                                          You're not a fan of taco trucks. I get that. That's no reason to make such vehement arguments in favor of restricting them based on nothing but speculation. You don't see the need for the truck because -- apparently -- you don't work in an area with very limited options for meals, a very limited time to eat, and limited transportation options. Lucky you. Why are you advocating making life more difficult for people who aren't so lucky?

                                                          1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                            I like Taco trucks and patronize them regularly, where did I say I didn't? I'm merely countering those arguments in favor of allowing unrestricted growth of an industry. I'm not the one who wrote the thread caption calling their opponents thugs trying to squash them. Vehement is a strong word, I do believe a community has the right to regulate itself and make no apologies. If the Salinas city council is that far off base, the political system will work to correct them.

                                                            Taco trucks don't have drive throughs, you still have to park and get out of the car. Again the comparison to McDs is a litl specious. McD's have them for the portion of their clientele that have had one too many Royales with Cheese and are unable to walk across the parking lot to get their fix.

                                                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                              Please point me to the "argument in favor of allowing unrestricted [sic] of an industry."

                                                              Hey, common ground: let's snark on people who live on MickeyD's.

                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                Meant to say "unrestricted growth", which is what could happen under the 50 yo policy, I don't know if they envisioned taco trucks at the time.

                                                                All I've seen from most of the posts on this board is opposition to the regulation in front of the city council. I've been been trying to point out that there may be a way to finding some middle ground if we recognize that there are two sides to this. The header for this whole discussion is a bit inflammatory and one sided.

                                                              2. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                - If the Salinas city council is that far off base, the political system will work to correct them.-

                                                                wow, do you really believe that in the greater context of current affairs.....

                                                                and even if you are correct, and it will work, how long will it take to work? Until the misguided council loses the next election? In the meantime, what happens to the folks who lose their livelihood and the folks who don't have cheap, fast alternatives besides the big chains? ( I can't recall if there is an In and Out in Salinas, but I suspect the real taco truck alternative for someone without money would be McD's: not that it is a real alternative...)

                                                                1. re: susancinsf

                                                                  I doubt anyone on the Salinas City Council has access to CIA and FBI records on their opponents, but that is a whole other discussion.

                                                                  Local politics are responsive, ask Ed Jew.

                                                                  How long has it taken to get to where they are?

                                                                  Why is the only alternative to taco trucks in Salinas Mickey Ds? Are there no other restos in the whole town besides the clown shop on every corner and our brave band of plucky taco trucks fending off the man? I seem to remember eating in an actual taqueria last time I drove through.....

                                                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                    somehow, I doubt if the Salinas City Council will be charged with a felony for banning the taco trucks....

                                                                    1. re: susancinsf

                                                                      Nah, but the right person could get them voted out, provided there is nothing in their FBI/CIA/Hoover files.

                                                                    2. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                      In Salinas, Denny's is the one food outlet open at 3am. I believe that In n Out is open until 1am or so on weekends. The sit-down restaurants often close at 8pm, a few stay open until 9pm during the summer, and wonder of wonders, I saw a sign on one restaurant this week that said it would be open between 3pm and 10pm. During the summer season, many field workers work one shift outside, then go to the coolers/packing sheds to work a second shift after dark. A couple mobile vendors have told me that they call on the coolers around 8 or 9pm for the breaks. Otherwise there is no food for sale in that part of town. Some of the trucks parked on E. Market street operate until 3am when the only other thing open in town is Denny's.

                                                                      1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                        wow...even worse than I assumed (which is that there might be a McDonald's open.). Even though Denny's isn't a high end place, it is a lot more expensive than the taco trucks..not to mention decidely lacking in deliciousness!

                                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                                          Denny's has a few reasonably priced items but it's not cheap. You're lucky to get out of there for $12 bucks p/per. You could feed 3 people for that at a taco truck.

                                                                        2. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                          You can always count on Melanie for cogent facts.

                                                                          I have to wonder if we don't have a chicken/egg paradox. Are there no other restos because of the trucks or are there trucks because there are no other restos?

                                                                          1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                            There are many, many restaurants in Salinas. However, they don't stay open past 8/9pm-ish. The taco trucks and those noted above are the only game late at night. A new Carl's Jr. opened in the area of controversy on East Market Street, not sure how recently, but new enough that it doesn't pop up in google's address records. Seems like that would be a bigger source of competition for dining dollars, but it managed to open, which leads me to suspect that "image" is more of an issue than true competition.

                                                                            The east side town can be described as "gritty", but unlike others, I don't consider it blighted. It's a small business haven. There are few vacancies available and even fewer of suitable size for someone to open a small cafe. I've hoped to see something that could work for a small walk-up taco window for any vendor who wanted a stationary home, but that doesn't seem to be part of the landscape now.

                                                                            The industrial area where people work is mostly big rig depots, coolers, and light manufacturing. There is another Carl's Junior over there and at least one lunch deli that I've noticed, and two Denny's. Might be some smaller operations tucked back away from the streets that I've not noticed or company cafeterias, but I've been scouting for taco trucks in those nooks and crannies and would probably have spotted something.

                                                                            1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                              The restaurants also do not serve hard-working construction workers and other laborers. People stuck working on site can't take a taxi to lunch at a restaurant - the taco trucks are extremely helpful to the hundreds or thousands of day laborers who work throughout the region, not just in the city.

                                                                              1. re: hewn

                                                                                The way I've seen the situation described most of these trucks are operating at fixed locations. If I was looking at regulating them these would seem to be the ones at issue as they are not truly "mobile vending" any more than a double wide that sits in one place for 10 years is a "mobile home".

                                                                            2. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                              A taco truck fills that kind of niche better: it doesn't need as much volume to survive, and it can make the rounds of several locations to reach the number of customers it needs. A restaurant might sit empty most of the night except for a few short bursts around meal times, which is an inefficient use of resources.

                                                                          2. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                            Local politics are responsive to those who have the money and the power and wish to reinforce and protect those things.

                                                                            There is far more transparency in the state legislature than there is in most city and county governments, and far more people making sure that transparency exists. Not that special interests (or "motivated citizens") don't push the vast majority of new lawmaking at every level...

                                                                            I am pretty sure that nobody on the city council owns a taco truck or gets campaign contributions from taco truck owners. However, one councilman is a major player in SUBA and I am sure you'll find several thousand dollars - or more - coming from SUBA members to elected officials in that community.

                                                                            One of the most important purposes of government is to protect citizens from big business. This is an incredible failure of the entire concept of government.

                                                                            1. re: hewn

                                                                              SUBA is made up entirely of big businesses?

                                                                              1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                "Big" is a relative term. If by "big business" you mean bigger and more powerful than truck owners who are not allowed to join that organization, then yes, it is.

                                                                                1. re: hewn

                                                                                  So because they make $100 more a year they are big and bad?

                                                                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                    There is no "good" or "bad" here, and I never said SUBA was bad. It's merely a power differential. Those with more power don't want to share it, and will do whatever is necessary to keep it. If someone who made $5 went out of their way to make sure than the person who made 5¢ could not compete with the $5 crowd, what would you call that?

                                                                                    1. re: hewn

                                                                                      Competition? In the food biz it's not all done on the plate.

                                                                                      Let's be honest, some of these owners of multiple trucks are probably more profitable than the Jalisco Taquera ownd by one of the board members of SUBA.

                                                                                      1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                        Here's the AP article from December 2006 that quotes Mr. Campos, the owner of Jalisco.
                                                                                        http://maderatribune.1871dev.com/news...
                                                                                        Jalisco is a popular cantina. With a liquor license, wouldn't it have the opportunity to make more profits from sales of beer than a truck?

                                                                                        One of the things that concerns me about pushing street vendors to transition to restaurants or other businesses is that given the real estate situation, that's not feasible. Secondly, is another 30+ restaurants with liquor licenses in the neighborhood going to be more desireable? Things get a little rough on the weekends as it is now.

                                                                                        1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                          Valid point on the alcohol, I was thinking along the lines of a typical taqueria. Most I've been to don't have the license.

                                                                                          The article pretty much lays out the same arguments both sides have been making. The new fact I noticed was that actions are being taken against all 240 permit holders, not just the trucks. This isn't some narrowly focused pogrom.

                                                                                          Going back over the minutes of SUBA meetings they only initially asked for a moratorium on new permits and an examination of the policy for a specific business area. The city council took it city wide.

                                                                                          It is unrealistic to expect all these businesses to make a transition to fixed locations. But the existing businesses have paid the price to be where they are, "Reynaldo Pimentel, owner of two trucks regularly parked near Campos' restaurant", if he is operating on public property, hasn't. He is being subsidized in a way that the resto owner is not.

                                                                                          1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                            As someone else has mentioned, there is a SUBA member on the city council.

                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                              He was responsible for the city wide ban? I'd be surprised if there wasn't an overlap between organizations in a town of that size. That is not evidence of anything.

                                                                                        2. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                          Once again. Please back up your facts. Many of the arguments here have been based on speculation. If the thought was that SUBA was being vilafied, it seems the taco trucks are getting vilified without any facts to back that up.

                                                                                          Again ... 50 years ... no problems.

                                                                                          Produce a documented problem.

                                                                                          1. re: rworange

                                                                                            It seems local business owners do think there is a problem, and they are not all restos. Just because they aren't truck operators doesn't mean they shouldn't be listened to. Or are the truck owners the only ones allowed to assert their position?

                                                                                            Again this started back in 2005, so the problems existed before that.

                                                                                            Sorry I don't have the access to health, safety and tax records in Salinas like you do. Since you see so positive that there hasn't been a single problem in 50 years I applaud your research skills.

                                                                                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                              What problems?

                                                                                              Do you really think if SUBA had documented problems they wouldn't be in their reports?

                                                                                              Isn't the American legal system innocent until proved guilty?

                                                                                              I just want to say that I'm not even mildly annoyed by this. I can argue points of view without taking it personally. So hope we can kiss and make up ... email me and I'll treat you to lunch ... you pick the taco truck.

                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                The most commonly mentioned were trash, congestion, and parking. Yes, I know it isn't all of them, but it must be true of some of them, after all, 50% are below average. I don't know specifically what problems, but short of driving down to Salinas and spending the day digging through the last 50 years of city records I don't think your assertion could be proven either.

                                                                                                I went through the online documents on the SUBA site, minutes, newsletters, etc. They are all pretty much summaries or state "discussion of mobile vending". I'd like to know more, but I don't think it would change my position as a centrist on this issue.

                                                              3. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                Scrap, of course my spending would be finite. I don't make enough for it to be infinite. But (and as rworange agrees), the presence or absence of taco trucks would not change my spending in B&M places. You're right in one sense: I would spend an insignificant amount less for groceries. So Safeway might suffer a 1% loss of my purchases.

                                                        2. It's getting hard to tell who's replying to whom, so I'll just move things back here to the left margin. There are a number of unsupported and/or incorrect statements above, and I'd like to deal with them.

                                                          >> Fruitvale has a higher residential and business density which will support that,

                                                          That strikes me as unsupported handwaving. Especially since in the overall, Salinas has a greater population density than Oakland:
                                                          Salinas: 148,350 / 19 = 7,808 per square mile
                                                          Oakland: 415,492 / 56.1 = 7,406 people per square mile

                                                          >> The myth of competition is not infinitely extensible, while it may be true for the first
                                                          >> 10 adds to an area's capacity, it starts to break at 50 or 100.

                                                          Again, handwaving. Does it break down at 50 or at 100? Factoids with 100% margin of error are not a good place to argue from. Even so, this again is a good argument against the Salinas proposal: there is room for 49 or 99 taco trucks.

                                                          >> Why all the In-N-Out Haters? Do you know something about them I don't?
                                                          >> Remember, they're a family run business also, they don't deserve to succeed?

                                                          They most certainly DO deserve to succeed. The point being made, however, is that because they are selling a commodity, their path to success is through artificial differentiation (the In and Out mystique we're all familiar with) in conjunction with the elimination of other non-commodity options (so that their efforts at differentiation have a bigger payoff). If I were an In and Out shareholder, I would be pretty upset to find out they were NOT working on improving their bottom line this way.

                                                          No one is hating In and Out here. It's just less confusing in this discussion to use them as a metonym for the entire Salinas fast food industry than it would be to use Taco Bell.

                                                          17 Replies
                                                          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                            Fine, find the numbers for Fruitvale alone as opposed to all of Oakland, your example not mine. What is happening in Fruitvale is not true for all of Oakland.

                                                            So your position is that is infinitely extensible? I threw out some numbers for a hypothetical area, but for every situation there is going to be some number n where it breaks. It's your theory.

                                                            Since when did tacos and burritos stop being commodities?

                                                            In-N-Out has succeeded themselves through actual differentiation. Their business model is demonstrably different from their marketplace competitors.

                                                            If you were an In-N-Out shareholder I'd be very surprised, they're a privately held family business. Instead of having to worry about this quarters dividend they seem to have focused on growth through doing it right. That's instead of worrying about shareholders like you thinking they have to pursue a scorched earth policy. Care to rethink your corporate strategy?

                                                            Why would Taco Bell (Yum Brands) be confusing? I find it a far more convincing argument for corporate shenanigans in this situation.

                                                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                              Privately held businesses have shareholders. But again: metaphor.

                                                              I'm happy to drop the density aspect of the discussion. I don't remember initially bringing it up but if I did, I apologize for the confusion.

                                                              The product of taco trucks is not a commodity by the definition of a commodity: goods purchased primarily on the basis of price. Two taco trucks next to each other will not be competing primarily on price. Two Taco Bells next to each other have no other option.

                                                              1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                The argument used by many on this board is that the trucks _are_ cheaper than the taquerias and are frequented because of this. This argues that the food served has reached commodity status.

                                                                1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                  I'm guessing you have some other definition of "commodity" than the one standardly used?

                                                                  Primarily. The key word is Primarily. Are you sure you don't know that
                                                                  and are just being difficult?

                                                                  If you read the report on Salinas trucks, you'll note that the focus
                                                                  is on different preparations, styles, and available products.

                                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                    I find it hard not to call a burrito a commodity in my neck of the woods. And yes, two taco trucks parked next to each other will compete pretty much on price when it comes to a basic bean and rice burrito. If you don't believe that, open your own truck there and price yours 10 cents higher.

                                                                    Yes, some produce specialties, but I'll be willing to bet the large majority of them have the same basic menu.

                                                                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                      OK, so now I'm starting to see the problem. You're not really all that familiar with taco trucks at all.

                                                                      First, almost nobody is buying burritos from the trucks. There's a reason they're called taco trucks. And once you've had a few, you learn that there's no such thing as a "standard" taco. Until then, I can see how you might imagine them to be commodities. But honestly, they're not.

                                                                      Ingredients, preparation, flavor, and size are all significant variables. Trucks I frequent have taco prices ranging from $1 to $1.50 with, yes, varying prices in close proximity. You could say they have the "same basic menu", but that's not really looking at the situation very mindfully.

                                                                      But we're getting off track. The purpose of this little side-squabble was to argue that while independently owned taco producers tend to compete by producing better-tasting product, producers of commodity hamburgers with saturated markets can increase sales primarily, if not solely, by eliminating competition. Thus suggesting where to look for the source of the Salinas situation.

                                                                      1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                        "Ingredients, preparation, flavor, and size are all significant variables. "

                                                                        The same could be said for burgers, fried chicken or hot dogs, but you classify these as commodities. Why does that not apply to the micro economy we are talking about here? Free market theory (widely espoused in this thread) says that the best way to grow in saturated markets is to produce a better product at a better price. That's how you eliminate competition.

                                                                        As a fan of street food all over the world, I am very familiar with the differences between what seemingly similar operations can and do offer.

                                                                        1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                          We're going in circles. Already answered above: "Two taco trucks next to each other will not be competing primarily on price. Two Taco Bells next to each other have no other option."

                                                                          To anticipate the next two entries in this thread, someone will say, "but you never see two Taco Bells next to each other." I will say, "QED".

                                                                          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                            Why wouldn't two taco trucks compete on price? Yes there is some differentiation in terms of details, but the poor people everyone says these trucks serve don't have the luxury of being chowhounds, they're going to buy the cheapest food they can to fill their stomachs.

                                                                            You also don't see two taco trucks parked next to each other.

                                                                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                              Sure you do. I know of at least two places in Oakland that have two taco trucks in the same parking lot. In one case, they have different specialities. In the other, I haven't the faintest idea what distinguishes the two, but it isn't price.

                                                                              1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                You get Burger Kings and Mcdonalds across the street from each other selling cheeseburgers for a buck, that doesn't prove that tacos in an environent where there are 240 mobile vending licenses aren't a commodity.

                                                                                1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                  You have an amazing talent for arguing a point no one made and ignoring the legitimate counters to the assertions you made.

                                                                                  The difference between taco truck fare and chain restaurant fare is that chain restaurant fare is, by definition, standardized: there's no point in having two Taco Bells next to each other because they serve absolutely identical product (although there are sometimes two or more outlets of the same chain very near each other, if there's enough business to warrant it -- there have to be half a dozen Starbucks within two blocks of my downtown SF office). On the other hand, you often see several similar chains in close proximity to each other. Why? In part because the companies spend millions (or billions?) of dollars each year trying to differentiate themselves from their competition. Price is one way, but the pricing structure of fast food chains is pretty much the same. Mostly, they try to differentiate themselves on the quality/characteristics of their product and the variety of their product line. McDonalds has Happy Meals! Burger King burgers are broiled! Jack-in-the-Box has different kinds of cheese! Wendy's has baked potatoes and salad bars. Etc.

                                                                                  In the same way, although the basic menus at taco trucks are very similar, each one has a "speciality" and there are variations in the styles of preparations. I had four al pastor tacos from four trucks in Salinas Saturday, and they were all different, as were the two shrimp ceviche tostadas from different trucks -- if I spent more time there, I would develop favorites. In Oakland, I patronize specific trucks for specific items (al pastor at El Gordo, carnitas and tripas at El Novillo, liquados and atole at El Ojo de Agua, etc.). I don't quite understand your arguments about what constitutes a commodity, but I do know that taco trucks do compete (or more accurately, build their clientele) on bases other than price.

                                                                                  1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                    Actually the point of this sub thread was whether or not the product served in this case was a commodity or not. THe assertion was that other fast food was because it was sold on the basis of price alone, I asserted that their were differences in product that consumers could and do differentiate. They are either both commodities or they are both not.

                                                                                    Sorry if that was unclear when you came in in the middle.

                                                                          2. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                            I would be that taco truck owners buy a lot more local ingredients than the tons of frozen meat and pre-mixed ingredients from outside the region that are served at fast food restaurants in the area.

                                                                            1. re: hewn

                                                                              Not necessarily a valid assumption, I know of a local one who buys his supplies from the same wholesalers local restos buy from. These come from all over. And yes some of it even arrives frozen!

                                                              2. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                Actually, I used the name In-N-Out (along with the not-so-admirable Carl's Jr.) because I observed firsthand their location amidst the "cluster" of taco trucks. But yes, my argument is that taco trucks are fast food and thus their primary competitors are fast food operations, not sit-down restaurants.

                                                                PS: I don't "get" the reverence toward In-N-Out, which in my admittedly limited experience (limited, because after one visit I saw no point in going back) isn't noticably better than any other fast food burger, any more than some people here get the supposed sacrosanct nature of taco trucks.

                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                  It's not reverence, I just like the way they do business, they take all the corporate fast food maxims, break them, and succeed brilliantly. Their burgers are slightly better than other fast food places and I'm no big fan of their fries, but I don't feel like I'm contributing to global evil when I spend a buck there. Plus real Ice tea and fresh lemon.

                                                              3. For another argument in the trucks favor, I'd recommend having
                                                                a look through Alexander's _A Pattern Language_
                                                                http://www.amazon.com/Pattern-Languag...
                                                                A classic text on livable, workable cities.

                                                                Pattern 93, "Food Stands" in particular makes the pro-truck argument very clearly. He begins, "Many of our habits and institutions are bolstered by the fact that we can get simple, inexpensive food on the street, on the way to shopping, work, and friends."

                                                                He then goes on to argue that they are not only a positive addition to a livable community, but they're a *necessary* one as well.

                                                                3 Replies
                                                                1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                  That is not arguing for trucks, just simple inexpensive street food. This exists all over the world without trucks. Simple carts, stalls, and strolling vendors may be more along the line of what this meant when it was written back before 1977.

                                                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                    He argues for the non-elimination of street food. Salinas is arguing for the elimination of street food. Thus, it is a counter-argument; an "argument in the trucks' favor". Can't get any clearer than that.

                                                                    Unfortunately, he's not at Berkeley anymore so I can't go over and ask him. But I'm pretty sure he hasn't abandoned his ideas in the face of new technology. Unless there's actual evidence to the contrary, I think this does stand as an argument, a strong argument, in favor of taco trucks. I'd be interested in discussing it with anyone who has read the book, though.

                                                                    1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                      I've studied urban design too, there is a large difference in the cityscape between a hot dog cart and a large truck. His argument is in favor of street food as part of an urban environment, not unregulated mobile vending.

                                                                      Standard Disclaimer - again - I'm not against Taco Trucks - please stop assuming I am. I've only argued against any industry being allowed unregulated growth. I don't think the complete ban is correct either.

                                                                2. I occasionally spend time in a little town on the California Delta. There used to be a Mexican style restaurant in town, probably been there for at least 15 years. Last fall I tried to eat there and it was closed, it was closed on my next 3-4 attempts. Last weekend, I asked one of my Delta neighbors if he knew what happened to the restaurant. He said a taco truck came to town last spring and took all of the worker's (agriculture workers) business from the restaurant. I remember eating at the restaurant on a Saturday morning and probably 8-10 people (workers) came in, buying a burrito or two each.

                                                                  The taco truck is parked ~200 yards from the site of the restaurant, and usually has a line when I drive by.

                                                                  7 Replies
                                                                  1. re: Alan408

                                                                    This same thing might well have happened if the upstart was a second restaurant.

                                                                    Without knowing all the specifics, it's probably not good to generalize, since there's equal evidence for the "lower overhead allows them to kill" vs. "restauranteur was running business poorly" vs. "this town's only big enough for one of us" arguments. And others.

                                                                    Lower overhead is a bit of a red herring anyway. Taco trucks can cost upward of $100,000:
                                                                    http://www.bizben.com/listings/82067.php

                                                                    1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                      Or as little as $18000 - http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/car/3...

                                                                      or $16000 - http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/bfs/3...

                                                                      or maybe even $12000 - http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/car/3...

                                                                      Or if you want to spend what I spent on my sushi counters and refrigeration alone, splurge and go $23k - http://sfbay.craigslist.org/eby/car/3...

                                                                      I don't really think these are red herrings......

                                                                      The one you posted includes exclusive rights to operate in a Lowe's parking lot - that is what's really for sale.

                                                                      1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                        Here's a related topic that has some of the dollars and cents figures I've heard from Salinas vendors.
                                                                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/409630

                                                                        1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                          >> The one you posted includes exclusive rights to operate in a
                                                                          >> Lowe's parking lot - that is what's really for sale.

                                                                          Aaaah! So maybe these guys actually *do* have some expenses we're not considering.

                                                                          1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                            This one does, because of his vending location, the same can't be said of all. Pick one up and park it on the street in front of Lowe's and those costs don't exist. If you dig around on the web you'll find examples of trucks with established routes for sub 50k.

                                                                            Be careful whose herring you're calling red, you might want to check the color of your own first.

                                                                      2. re: Alan408

                                                                        That's a shame but I guess the next question is if the food is better or less expensive at the truck? Given how much farm laborers earn and their living situation (many in non-perm housing), it's hard to blame them for seeking less expensive or better food.

                                                                        Ideally an economy can support many enterprises but in a small town with low wages, the market pressures and fall out are going to be way more extreme.

                                                                        1. re: ML8000

                                                                          So where do you eat when the farm workers go home?

                                                                      3. The Press Democrat Biteclub blog on the story and the same issue for Santa Rosa, CA,
                                                                        http://biteclub.pressdemocrat.com/def...

                                                                        1. rw, thank you for publicizing this issue. This has been an ongoing problem for sometime in Chicago too, where our mayor's disney-fied ideal for the city excludes "messy" stuff like street vendors of food or even newstands. Here's an article from the Chicago Reader from 10 years ago about the city's attacks on vendors:
                                                                          http://old.openair.org/alerts/corn/vi...

                                                                          The article begins:
                                                                          "On the morning of March 8, 1997, two people Maria Espinoza had never seen before drove up to her elote stand at the corner of 25th and Kedzie. They were from the Health Department, and they told her this was a surprise inspection. The inspectors dumped bleach over all the mangoes, pineapples, and cucumbers Espinoza was planning to sell that day. They poured bleach on her elotes, too, and in the condiments for those ears of corn. They unloaded still more bleach into several vats of fruit juice. Then they handed her a ticket. It said they "found Maria Espinoza on the street corner selling cut fruit, cooked corn, juice. The product, 50 ears corn, 25 gallons of juice, 50 pounds cut fruit, was denatured with bleach, and disposed of. All unwrapped and cooked." ..."

                                                                          4 Replies
                                                                          1. re: Amata

                                                                            I don't live in Chicago any more, but since this took place ten years ago and the latest update is from 2000, do you have any idea how this resolved?

                                                                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                              In the lakefront neighborhoods where tourists are likely to go there are no mobile food vendors, just stands licensed by the Park District, etc. In the outlying neighborhoods, especially the Mexican neighborhoods of Pilsen and La Villita, the tamaleros and eloteros are still operating. But as far as I know the law is still on the books and could be applied against the vendors at any time (probably dependent on the whim of the specific alderman, knowing Chicago).

                                                                              1. re: Amata

                                                                                So all the dustup but pretty much no change? Sounds like politics as usual in Chicago, I wonder who got the payoff.

                                                                            2. re: Amata

                                                                              Thanks for the link and an interesting read in the ever colorful history of Chicagoland!

                                                                              I also wanted to point out that the situation in Salinas is a bit different. Here we have an attempt to get rid of street vendors who hold lawful permits now to operate. The operators and employees are required to have a certificate of food safety training. The trucks and carts are inspected twice annually at the health department, and have spot inspections during operations on the street.

                                                                              Granted, there are undoubtedly unlicensed food vendors on the streets. However, no one I've found in Salinas is arguing that they should not be prosecuted. As I've said before, banning all legal vendors in order to address the problem of rogue sellers is like shooting an ant with an elephant gun. Far too much collateral damage.

                                                                              Grand Jury Says Mobile Vendors A Health Threat: Marks Out East Salinas As Major Problem Area
                                                                              http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/...

                                                                            3. FACTS:
                                                                              "There are 256 authorized mobile push carts and 31 stationary catering vehicles in Salinas."

                                                                              Jan. 23, 2007 Salinas Vendor Permit Ordinance Update City Council Meeting
                                                                              http://www.ci.salinas.ca.us/Ccouncil/...

                                                                              2/13/07 Salinas City Council Meeting to adopt "Limitations on Mobile Vendor Permits"
                                                                              Limit the number of permits to those issued and outstanding as of 11/1/05
                                                                              http://www.ci.salinas.ca.us/Ccouncil/...

                                                                              2/20/07 Adopted ORDINANCE 2464 amending Section 20-58 of the Municipal Code limiting the number of authorized vendors, introduced on February 13, 2007.
                                                                              http://www.ci.salinas.ca.us/Ccouncil/...

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: monku

                                                                                Good find! I hadn't used my google-fu to get that far yet.

                                                                              2. From a purely Chowhound perspective, a proliferation of Taco Trucks is a good.... a very, very, very good thing:

                                                                                1) Taco Trucks have inherent culinary advantages over bricks & mortar.... the taco goes from the griddle to your plate within 30 seconds, and there is a very short half life with tacos.

                                                                                2) As tacos become what you get from a mobile vendor, it will force Mexican B&M resterateurs to differentiate themselves and maybe, just maybe we will finally enter a golden age of Mexican cuisine in the U.S. in which burritos dissappear from menus, grownup regional, period, specialty & nueva cocina start talking over.

                                                                                I can only imagine these boards blowing up with posts about the best Mixiote, Siete Mares, or Huitlacoche Crepes... it might even help grow more Chowhounds!

                                                                                So are we in agreement? To the f%% with Salinas BOD.... LONG LIVE THE TACO TRUCK!

                                                                                3 Replies
                                                                                1. re: Eat_Nopal

                                                                                  Did you read the minutes Monku posted? It doesn't look like the city council has done anything but help the truck owners. THey didn't take any permits away, they are allowing vendors who are out of town to get permits when they come back, and they are not issueing new ones.

                                                                                  One of the unintended but I am sure welcome consequences will be the increase in value of the now finite pool of permits. Even if they can't be sold they can be rented.

                                                                                  No, we are not in agreement, I don't even know who or what the Salinas BOD is, much less whether I'd want to f%% him/her/it.

                                                                                  1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                    The cap on permits is the first step, and they are not transferable. The second shoe hasn't dropped yet as far as proposed further restrictions and the timing of the phase-out. That is still on the table.

                                                                                    1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                      No they aren't transferable but in similiar cases the original owner often "rents" the business out while holding the original license. Kinda like subletting rent controlled apartments, and subject to the same kind of problems.

                                                                                2. Today's NY Times article which quotes Melanie Wong and links to Chowhound.
                                                                                  http://travel.nytimes.com/2007/06/15/...

                                                                                  It ends ...

                                                                                  “It’s a restraint of trade and you cannot do it,” Mr. LeBeouf said. “The city may be banking on the fact that the vendors don’t have the money or motivation to challenge it. That’s not the way you make good law.”

                                                                                  10 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: rworange

                                                                                    I've never seen a lawyer paid by a group argue against them, Mr. LeBeouf was just hired by them and I'm sure he's eager to earn his hourly fees.

                                                                                    Restricting where and when a businees can operate is not restraint of trade, zoning is used to accomplish this all the time. Any number of businesses face similiar types of restrictions.

                                                                                    1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                      In that article it says the law would phase out taco trucks period.

                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                        Monku has thoughtfuly provided links to the relevant city council meeting minutes. I don't think the writer of this article, the one you cited in your OP or you yourself have read those carefully.

                                                                                        1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                          Look again, "Mr. Russell stated that the stationary vehicles are also required to have a Health permit, business license and vendor permit. Staff is recommending requiring an identification card and that the number be limited to thirty-one. The draft ordinance proposes to relocate stationary vendors to private properties within six months with the consent of the property owner and tenants, if zoning permits. Operating hours would be limited to 6 p.m. and 6 a.m. so as not to compete with lunchtime businesses, and there is a three-year phase out period. The exception is for vendors in industrial zones, where there are not any complaints regarding vendors as there are in commercial areas."

                                                                                          These operating issues are still up for discussion. Establishing the cap was the first step. Now the timing of the phase-out, e.g., ban, is being negotiated.

                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                            But this isn't an outright ban, only on the stationary vendors not located in industrial zones. Characterizing it as getting rid of all the trucks in Salinas is a bit of a reach.

                                                                                            1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                              Yup ... let them work in the fields where they belong.

                                                                                              Taco trucks “should go to the fields and feed the agriculture guys,” said Mr. Campos, 29, a Salinas native of Mexican descent.

                                                                                              Very interesting the city attorney tried to tie the problems with local spinach to the taco trucks ... though taco trucks don't sell spinach-based food ... though city officials said there has never in the 50 years of the program been a health issue with the trucks.

                                                                                              1. re: rworange

                                                                                                And gee, yet again that isn't the position I or the city council took, they want to leave truly mobile and industrial area trucks alone and require the ones locating in the commercial district to be subject to the same zoning regs as everyone else.

                                                                                                The e. coli issue wasn't against the trucks, it was brought up because it raised the fear level over sanitation in the whole area. “There is a huge concern around here because of E. coli,” Mr. Callihan said. “It happened after the vendor issue came up. But it fed into it and our need to make sure food is safe.”

                                                                                                "John Ramirez, Assistant Director of Environmental Health, stated that they became involved because of health and sanitary violations and impacts on storm water issues. "

                                                                                                "Councilmember Barrera stated that the Health Department has reported that health and safety laws have been broken, which impacts residents’ health."

                                                                                                Wanna try that again?

                                                                                                1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                                  No ... they are not requiring the trucks in the commercial district to the same zoning regs as everyone else. They want to first restrict their hours to 6pm to 6am ... you have seen that mentioned endlessly.

                                                                                                  Then they want to phase them out ... also mentioned numerous times.

                                                                                                  That last quote was pulled out of city council meeting minutes and have had numerous reports that that was not a fact I can only go by what I'm reading in the NY Times which cites no health problems.

                                                                                                  Bringing up an issue that has nothing to do with the taco trucks ... well, I hope they are monitering the restaurants serving spinach and the market selling it. That seems more appropriate.

                                                                                    2. re: rworange

                                                                                      Scrapic is finally correct about one thing: it's not restraint of trade.

                                                                                      The city obviously knows that unfairly restraining the proprietors of the trucks in favor of failing restaurants would get their law tossed out of court.

                                                                                      That's why the grand jury got involved and why the nominal issue is health concerns. In order to artificially restrict businesses like this, they need to show a clear public interest. Whether or not that's the true underlying issue is of course a matter of debate. And what the eventual legal case will be about.

                                                                                      So what you'd expect to see in a case like this a HUGE smokescreen of "health" issues. It's the only leg they have. They can't use "zoning" because *retroactive* zoning restrictions that have the sole effect of benefitting one group of citizens over another are very clearly illegal. If the government were acting with legitimate concerns, you would see clear documentation of health issues. If they were acting differently, you would see worrisome "what if"s.

                                                                                      Thanks for the link to the NYT. It's encouraging to see the writer tying everything up at the end with that quote.

                                                                                      1. re: rworange

                                                                                        Nice read, thanks for the link. It certainly clarifies things and the NYT fact checking is very solid.

                                                                                        The summary statement by the vendor's attorney sums it up. Strategically, besides banking on a non-challenge, if you phase out vendor's permits over 4 years and if there's limited B&M locations available -- suddenly the competition is gone.

                                                                                      2. Article today by Chow ... which says ...

                                                                                        "Salinas currently has about 30 taco trucks clustered in a four-mile radius. Such a density of food under threat makes us hungry, so we went to investigate"
                                                                                        http://www.chow.com/stories/10609

                                                                                        Don't read on an empty stomach or you will need to rush to your local taco truck for a snack.

                                                                                          1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                            Interesting ... and Chowhound is mentioned in the first sentence.

                                                                                            I've been trying to find the one of the six taco trucks in Marin County. The San Rafael truck isn't where it has been reported to be. Driving around San Rafael's canal district it seems that if ever there was a place that could use this type of truck, this is it.

                                                                                            And the thing is ... for me, when I was in the mood for cheap fast food like tacos ... when I didn't find the truck, it didn't cause me to go into one of the area restaurants. I didn't want that much food. I didn't want to spend the the time or money. I picked up a $1 double cheeseburger at Burger King ... the only food in that price range in that area.

                                                                                            There is a small taqueria I didn't try, but parking was impossible and it was just too much effort.

                                                                                            1. re: rworange

                                                                                              That's exactly what I meant when I argued, elsewhere in this thread, that taco trucks are more a replacement for fast-food drive-throughs than for sit-down taquerias.

                                                                                              BTW, I was out taco trucking last night, and despite all the (completely unfounded) speculation about how taco trucks probably aren't paying taxes, the sales tax was clearly indicated on my receipt (the $1.25 price was rung up as $1.15 for the taco and .10 tax). So there!

                                                                                              PS: How cool that Melanie can monitor this from Europe!

                                                                                              1. re: monku

                                                                                                Isn't that true of any business, though? Why pick on taco trucks?

                                                                                                1. re: Ruth Lafler

                                                                                                  It's best to just let things like this slide, there's no way out:

                                                                                                  "Taco trucks don't pay sales taxes!"
                                                                                                  "How do you know?"
                                                                                                  "Because they're taco trucks and taco trucks don't pay sales taxes!"

                                                                                                  They also are unregistered, uninspected, and don't pay parking meters.
                                                                                                  How do you know? Because they're taco trucks!

                                                                                                  "Naive", by the way, is an ad hominem attack that has no place here.

                                                                                                  1. re: Chuckles the Clone

                                                                                                    Sarcasm = appreciated.

                                                                                                    I eat at Sacramento's taco trucks on a weekly basis and I've always been charged sales tax.

                                                                                          2. Another article printed in the 6/26 edition of the San Jose Mercury News:
                                                                                            http://www.mercurynews.com/search/ci_...

                                                                                            1. An interesting article for anyone following the issue....

                                                                                              http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/19567902/

                                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                                              1. re: Scrapironchef

                                                                                                Here's this morning's piece in the Houston Chronicle on the same situation in Louisiana. Salinas is mentioned.

                                                                                                July 8, 2007, 1:57AM
                                                                                                In Louisiana parish, a law targets lunch trucks
                                                                                                Some detect the scent of racism in similar city laws around country
                                                                                                By ALLAN TURNER
                                                                                                http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/f...

                                                                                              2. If there not doing anything illegal they should get to stay in business.Where else are you going to get good Mexican food.Most Mexican restaurants are so americanized the health value of the food is virtually nil.I'll tell you five of those street vendors chicken tacos with hot sauce sliced carrots,cabbage,cilantro,oregano,lime and jalapeños will get you over a cold so quick the cold will run for cover.If food was medicine nobody embodied it better than Mexicans or maybe Mediterranean food.

                                                                                                1. Amazed, grateful, shocked, and still shaking my head in disbelief at the outcome of tonight's Salinas City Council hearing. I'm glad that I was able to attend to see and hear the proceedings myself as I never expected this. The proposed ordinance was approved with two major changes after the public discussion. The two parts that were thrown out are: 1) the attrition of available permits down to zero and 2) phase-out of stationary vendors at the end of four years. Instead, the number of permits will remain at 31 and not decline, and continuation of street vending in the Alisal district will be revisited in four years and not legislated to end automatically at that point, These were the two most onerous provisions and I had been led to understand were non-negotiable.

                                                                                                  During the public comment period, I made reference to changes in street food regulation in New York and Toronto in my remarks. Later Mayor Donahue mentioned that he was very familiar with the street culture in those two great cities, and while he didn't think that Salinas was quite there yet, it almost felt like it to him judging from the amount of email he has received on this matter. So kudos to those of you who wrote in, you made a big difference!

                                                                                                  2 Replies
                                                                                                  1. re: Melanie Wong

                                                                                                    Melanie, that's great news! Thanks for shining a spotlight on this for us and being such an advocate for the "small guy." I'm curious if many of the actual vendors were in attendance at the hearing?

                                                                                                    1. re: Carb Lover

                                                                                                      Yes, the vendors came to the hearing. The audience was a little smaller than the January meeting, as there seemed to be fewer merchants in attendance.

                                                                                                      I've started a new thread here, Salinas Mobile Vendors Declare Victory,
                                                                                                      http://www.chowhound.com/topics/420366