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.