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Food Truck Lots Could Get First Permanent Permits

Proposed rules before Santa Monica Planning Commission would have lots open 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. up to three days per week.

Food trucks may soon find a permanent home in Santa Monica.

The Planning Commission will hold a public hearing Wednesday to suss out a permanent permitting mechanism to regulate on-going food truck events, such as the weekly Tuesday fundraiser at the .

Currently, the city only issues temporary permits to food trucks that operate on private property. The permits regulate operations, such as lighting, noise and hours.

In the case of the museum lot, which has operated since September 2010, the temporary permit has been extended to give the city time to look at the impacts and benefits of the food truck events.

Among other things, the proposed permanent regulations include:

  • Limiting venues to operating up to three days per week between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.;
  • Requiring a minimum of one on-site public restroom for men and one for women;
  • Providing a maximum 200 square foot of seating area to keep noise to a minimum;

Food truck events became popular in Santa Monica two years ago, when about 1,000 people swarmed to an unsanctioned gathering at 14th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard. The event was quickly shut down by the city over health and safety concerns.

The lot sprung back to life this month with the proper, but temporary, approvals from City Hall, according to city development analyst Erika Cavicante.


Coming up with a permanent solution has been on the City Council's agenda since the spring of last year. In November 2011, the council took one step toward that goal by adopting a new ordinance to bar vending on Main Street between Ocean Park Boulevard and Marine Street between 1 and 3 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

SoCal Mobile Food Vendor's Association President Matt Geller said firefighters and police officers have accompanied city officials while they study food truck operations.

"Santa Monica sometimes gets a bad rep for a lot of business oriented stuff, but I can tell you we deal with a lot of cities… and [Santa Monica] really puts time and effort in figuring out what is best when it comes to food trucks," Geller said. "And it’s been great."

City officials continue to report concerns about sidewalk overcrowding and jaywalking. Grievences from nearby brick and mortar businesses, however, appear to have subsided, they said.

In the past, merchants have said the food trucks block their stores' visibility and with low-priced fare and lower overhead, create unfair competition.

In an Aug. 18 post on the SoCal Mobile Food Vendor's Association’s site, supporters are asked to write letters of support to the city's planning department and to take to social media to declare their support:

A small minority that opposes the Santa Monica Tuesday night Main Street is opposing the Planning Commissions recommendations in an attempt to stop the Tuesday night event on Main Street... We need your help to save the Main Street lot Tuesday night event

The Planning Commission meets at 7 p.m. Wednesday in council chambers, on the second floor of City Hall, at 1685 Main St. The commission will eventually make a recommendation to the City Council, which has the final say on the matter.

Click here for the Planning Commission's full agenda for Wednesday.

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Dan Charney August 21, 2012 at 06:29 PM
Why limit them to three days a week? They are actual restaurants- why not let them be open 7 days a week? They provide a fun gathering place for lots of folks and are a wonderful alternative to brick and mortar places- plus, so many good and different choices in one place- it's terrific
Ron Yukelson August 21, 2012 at 10:22 PM
I used to own a condo on the 1200 block of 14th Street (between Santa Monica & Arizona). Good thing for the City Council I've moved away because I would be raising holy hell having that crowd on my corner. It wasn't bad enough we had bar patrons peeing and barfing in our fountain; now we would have to put up with this crowd talking loudly, leaving trash on our property and generally being disrespectful of the neighborhood. I hope some measures are put in place to ensure that the residents of the area are not negatively impacted.
Diane August 22, 2012 at 08:47 PM
Because they are ruining business for the the small restaurants and merchants on Main street.
Diane August 22, 2012 at 08:53 PM
On Tuesday afternoon and evening, there is no parking anywhere near Main Street and Hill, not in the lots, not on the street, because of the people going to the food trucks. They eat, they remain at the lot or at the Victorian, they don't walk around and shop, they ruin the business of the small restaurants in the area for that whole evening, and they ruin the business for the merchants in the area because there is no where to customers to park.
Dan Charney October 02, 2012 at 09:34 PM
Diane- I understand that the Main Street area might not be a great idea- but how about a permanent home for them where there aren't other restaurants or shops with it's own parking so it's a destination- one wouldn't come down on a new restaurant or shop because it takes business away - I think it's a great idea- for a different location
Diane October 03, 2012 at 12:37 AM
I think it's a great idea for a different location with parking! I would definitely go, I love food trucks. It's just not fair to take any business away from small brick and mortar restaurants and shops, and even worse in this economy where they are barely making it as is.
Dan Charney October 03, 2012 at 01:19 AM
I hear that- I have noticed though - no seeming shortage of people in most places on Main of late- some are always packed - others not so much - they might have them at the beach lot or something- they are cleared out by then- it's mostly Mom and Pop - a few of the higher end places - but a lot of those trucks are just hard working folk- maybe there is room for all-
Diane October 03, 2012 at 06:08 AM
I don't know what places are packed on weeknights. I am there until 10 p.m. or later every night except Wednesday and Sunday and no one is packed during the week except sometimes Chinois, La Vecchia and Areal, which are not the kind of restaurants that would be competing with food trucks. The Mom And Pop restaurants and stores are the ones being hurt. The restaurants can't compete cost wise with the trucks, they have much higher overhead. And both the restaurants and the stores are hurt by the lack of parking all the way from Ocean to Ashland on Main and in all the parking lots. From 6 on there is no where to park.
Dan Charney October 03, 2012 at 06:36 AM
Every time i've seen Library Ale House it appears packed- so does the bar that used to be the Circle- also Joe's Diner- but I don't see them every night- agree about the higher end ones like Chaya and Via Veneto ( the one next to Sumiko -never sure if that is the name but alsways- packed- along with Chinois and the other two you mentioned- I like the trucks- they need their own place- they have a right to exist-- it's like buying on Amazon- I am not for it but it's coming-


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