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New assembly bill could wipe out food trucks (in California)


"The food truck nation is fretting over AB 1678, a bill introduced into the California State Legislature on Tuesday a.k.a. Valentine's Day. But this was no love letter for fans of mobile food. The bill seeks to ban mobile food and beverage vending within 1,500 feet of elementary and secondary schools from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. when schools are in session. The bill was introduced by Bill Monning (D-Carmel), and already given support by the California Food Policy Advocates, which focuses on low income familes' access to affordable and nutritious foods."

"A statement from Monning's office reads in part: "Mobile food vending poses a threat to student safety as well as student nutrition. Mobile vending near school campuses incentivizes students to leave school grounds, which increases students' exposure to off-campus hazards such as heavily trafficked streets."

Of course this would have nothing to do with contributions from the restaurant industry.

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  1. I really don't have an issue with that restriction, can't see how that will 'wipe out' food trucks. I think it's the same as if they were to park in front of a restaurant.

    1 Reply
    1. re: cstr

      this reasoning is exactly why they're presenting it this way. it sounds innocent enough but the general public don't really understand how few areas comply with rules like this (not just this, almost all things that say you can't be x' within a bunch of things).

      here's an example of what's blocked out in san fransisco in just 1k feet within schools. http://www.sf-planning.org/index.aspx...

      if the restaurant people successfully lobbied to get a bill that's fine by me. i hate they're going about it in such a round about way.

    2. I don't think (gourmet) food truck's main audience are kids. I have a feeling this will have little impact on their viability.

      4 Replies
      1. re: chezwhitey

        While food trucks aren't likely soliciting kids directly this bill is the kind of red tape that will make doing general business harder. What if a busy spot that has a lot of local professionals who like to frequent the truck is also within the range of a school?

        I'm not familiar enough with the food truck scene in CA to say whether or not students leaving campus to get lunch at the trucks is a big enough problem to warrant legislation, but this seems like the kind of rule that will do very little good (after all, if the school has a rule about not leaving the grounds for lunch already the students who are leaving aren't likely to stop just because the food truck isn't there anymore) while it very well may hinder legitimate business.

        1. re: chezwhitey

          Apparently you did not look at the linked map (http://mlkshk.com/p/CQGN) that showed that in a very large proportion of Sacramento (used as an example), food trucks would be banned. Did you consider how large school campuses are (with their playing fields), and how many private and charter schools there are besides public schools?

          1. re: Encinitan

            But how many food trucks are currently operating in those areas? Without that that information the map is fairly meaningless in assessing the real impact of the legislation. The vast bulk of the area shown in the map appears to be suburban-residential, not target areas for mobile food vendors other than the ice cream truck. Food trucks gravitate to high concentrations of pedestrian traffic such as business and shopping districts. The author sounds the alarm that the bill will severely impact mobile food vendors without providing evidence that a significant fraction of mobile food vendors currently operate within the areas which would be prohibited.

            1. re: kmcarr

              Here's a map for San Francisco which shows both the exclusion zones (red) and operating trucks according to the SFPD.


              If the intent is to keep kids from eating junk off campus, the bill did not need to include preschools, elementary schools, and middle schools, none of which typically allow their students off campus.

        2. "Of course this would have nothing to do with contributions from the restaurant industry."

          Of course not. Students aren't going out to restaurants on their lunch break, and they are not likely to in the absence of food trucks.

          1 Reply
          1. re: GH1618

            Students will find faster service at the brick & mortar fast-food outlets & stores already established across the street or within a fast walk of their schools.

            1. Waste of time and money. More red tape to cut through.

              1. This Bill is flawed in many respects. If enacted, the Bill would decimate the burgeoning mobile food industry without addressing the author’s concerns in any significant manner. In many California cities, more than 80 percent of the public right of ways are within 1500 feet of a school. Without suitable areas to operate a large number of mobile restaurants will be forced out of business. Yet, even with food trucks out of business, children will have plenty of access to “unhealthy” food. Even if one accepts the Author’s claim that students on closed campuses leave school to obtain unhealthy food, the Bill will do nothing to curb this alleged threat. The Bill does not purport to ban the sale of any particular type of food. So fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and gas station stores will continue to operate within the restricted area offering all manner of “unhealthy” food.

                Please sign the petition to stop AB1678 http://tinyurl.com/AB1678

                In the last three years mobile vending has become one of the fastest growing trends in food service. Restauranteurs have taken to the streets to deliver a wide variety of cuisines. The mobile food facility is merely a delivery system used to service the public. Many trucks pride themselves on providing organic healthy meals that come straight from the farmer’s market. Even the trucks that do not promote their cuisines as health food often use only high quality ingredients in their food’s preparation. This Bill does not differentiate between cuisines, only the delivery mechanism used by a restauranteur to serve the public. Imagine the Bill had banned all restaurants with a drive through window from operation within 1500 feet of a school. Healthy restaurants that wanted to service the public and provide a quick take out option would be prohibited from doing so just because of a service practice. This Bill does not ban unhealthy food, it bans a service mechanism.
                The Bill’s attempt to make a statewide prohibition to address local issues simply makes no sense. A number of Cities and Counties already have rules prohibiting mobile vendors from operating near schools while in session. Local school districts have rules prohibiting students from leaving campus. The Author fails to make any showing as to why the State should make these broad legislative decisions when the local authorities already have the power to do so. If enacted this Bill would even restrict schools from holding food truck fundraisers on campuses.

                California is in the middle of any unprecedented financial crisis. However, instead of using our limited legislative resources in an efficient manner, this Bill would put thousands of people out of work without actually addressing the issue of childhood obesity. The Author claims to know what is best for every county, city, town, and school in the entire state. This Bill will be defeated because Californians are smart enough to know there are better ways to address these issues without damaging an entire industry.

                1. Clearly a poorly veiled attempt to take away competition from restaurants under the guise of concern for children. Elementary and middle school kids, at least where I live, are not leaving school to go out for lunch. That leaves high schools where some allow and others don't (or a combination such as upperclassmen) allow students to leave.
                  If these trucks are targeting the high school crowd (questionable) one would think that a truck parked curbside at the school would probably be safer for the kids than if 6 of them piled in a car to "rush" to the nearest drive through, eat, and return in the 45 minutes allotted for lunch. Two students at a local high school lost their lives in separate lunch run driving incidents 2 years ago not far from my home. I wonder if things might be different if there had been a burrito truck parked outside of the school.

                  I'd argue FOR the safety aspects of having the food come to the kids vs. them having to drive to get it. You want to put teenagers at risk? Put a batch of them in a car.

                    1. I am most bothered by the use of the word "incentivizes". That's a word used mostly, by my observations, by public policy wonks, politicians, and the same people that overuse the word "paradigm".