Santa Monica Nixes Food Truck Confab – but you can help

Yet another example of (borrowing from the estimable Mr Jalopy) Going Out Of Business In LA:   The Santa Monica Food Truck Debacle of 2010.

It was only a matter of time before someone came up with the idea of “hosting” a few of the popular gourmet food trucks (PLEASE don’t call them Roach Coaches!), creating a rotating hub of deliciousness.

The corner of Santa Monica and 14th was just such a hub, and the magic lasted all of about one day before the City showed up wanting their piece of the pie (or bite of a grilled cheese, or taco, or brisket, or whatever).   The location had its soft open on Monday (Yay, Pete, getting in there!) with India jones, Barbie Q’s, Fishlips, and the Grilled Cheese Truck, and was closed down on Tuesday.

Barely one whole day of operations.

Tuesday’s lineup was supposed to be FrySmith, Barbies Q, India Jones and Dainty Cakes.   The City claims the property owner doesn’t have the right food service paperwork on file. Nevermind all the individual trucks have it – Hey the whole state’s broke – Let’s tax the hell out of small businesses trying to get new ideas off the ground, even if it puts them out of business in the process.

I get it – local brick-and-mortar restaurants are feeling the threat from these trucks. To which I respond, “Free Market, Baby!”  Let the market be free already.

Pissed off? Hungry?

Email the Santa Monica City Council at council@smgov.net and codecompliance@smgov.net. Don’t forget to CC the food truck lot guy at smfoodtrucklot@gmail.com.

Follow the food truck lot guy via Twitter, all you Twitterers —

See you at Santa Monica and 14th — I hope!

9 Replies to “Santa Monica Nixes Food Truck Confab – but you can help”

  1. I’m not sure why having a bunch of trucks in a parking lot is “worse” than having them all park along a street taking up parking spaces. Seems to me that it’s safer for patrons to walk around a parking lot, hopefully cleaner with garbage recepticles, and definitely more convenient.

    I know that many businesses on Abbot Kinney are not pleased about all the trucks on First Friday, but I noticed last nite that many were in the parking lot at The Brig and just a few parked on the street. This works well for Venice, and Santa Monica needs to get the pole out of it’s ass and do the same.

  2. There are enough vacant lots in this city (well, cities) that it shouldn’t be that hard to find an appropriate private one to host this sort of thing. The trucks could pay a small fee or percentage to the co-op to pay for some bare necessities, such as a couple of port-a-potties and trash removal.

    As a side note, a small amusement park has been for sale near my hometown for some years. As an amusement park it doesn’t do very well, but as a food festival a la food trucks it would do very well. Anyone have $1.2 million?

  3. The most shortsighted thing about closing the lot to me was that intersection is a dead zone. Two gas stations, a closed 14 Below, and the empty auto sales lot. It sounds like a solution might be reaches, and a bunch of trucks were supposed to park there on the street today.

  4. Yeah, I’m with Evan. There was no “there” there. This would have been good for the city. I know the restaurants are annoyed, but in the end if more people head over there, they’ll get the spill-off traffic in the brick-and-mortar restos.

  5. The thing is though, there are no restaurants directly near that lot. The closest one I can think of is the pizza place up on Wilshire & 14th, Izzy’s on Wilshire & 15th…and the Taco Bell a few blocks down Santa Monica.

    The thing is, I read the pertinent zoning law for the zoning type of the lot, and it’s true that the use didn’t fit into any of the allowed uses. There were some that it could kind of be bent to fit into. I’m not sure how much the people that organized the lot researched the zoning and regulations–the impression that I got from one of their statements was that the guy that owns the lot said they could operate there, and then the food truck people found out they couldn’t. Either way, the city has gotten a lot of bad publicity out of this. On the other hand, I’m not sure how taxes work with food trucks–if these trucks aren’t paying taxes to the city, I can see why they wouldn’t be rolling out the carpet.

    But, to contradict myself further again, I don’t live all that far away, these trucks are usually places not near me, or nearby really late–I was happy to find out a stationary location that they would be at at a time I could go there. Bring them back!

  6. There is definitely nothing to compete with nearby in that area. All the big companies like MTV, Yahoo!, Universal, etc. would be very pleased to go to the food trucks as opposed to the other limited options within walking distance. OK, me too, I’m getting tired of Subway and Quiznos.

  7. Anyone who’s ever done business within the city of Santa Monica shouldn’t be surprised. They have numerous strict permitting rules, which is all fine and dandy, but the office that issues and approves said permits have a track record of not explaining the full needs for compliance, even when asked ahead of time, then take no responsibility when the permit is denied for some random, forgotten rule.

  8. Tara–but when the trucks do come to Santa Monica, they often park near the big media companies (around Cloverfield or 26th and Broadway or Colorado…which is even closer to where I live, but they’re only there for lunch, which does me no favors).

  9. I do event production for a living anytime that you have to deal with the City of Santa Monica it is always a nightmare to deal with them about permits. So I try not to have any of my clients do there events in the city at all. This is not really a big surprise at all to anyone.

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