Politics, land use and economic development are complex issues in cities. The growing popularity of food carts in some places is causing friction between the carts, neighborhoods, businesses, and often police.
Take Los Angeles for example, where police have started chasing off mobile food vendors from the area known as “Miracle Mile”. The Los Angeles Times reports in this article:
…But last week, the lines disappeared after police officers swooped in and forced Green Truck and several other mobile food vendors parked in the mid-Wilshire area to move on.
Some drivers said they were cited for minimal violations such as parking too close to the curb, or parking too far away. Others said they were ordered to pack up and leave.
I have a few problems with this article. Specifically, the article fails to explain whether or not the carts are allowed by law, and why Police have the authority to remove carts on grounds of,
“They don’t have city and health department permits,” said Lt. Dan Hudson, watch commander at the Los Angeles Police Department Wilshire Division. “Restaurants complain because the lunch trucks are taking their business, and they don’t have [proper] permits.”
My take? If the carts do not have proper permits, then that is a valid health and legal violation, but should be handled in a consistent manner across the board and in a way that follows standard city and county procedures. Laws do exist to protect consumers. Carts, like any other business, need to operate on the up and up. Yet, the pesky questioning journalist in me keeps coming back to this line in the article,
“Restaurants complain because the lunch trucks are taking their business, and they don’t have [proper] permits.”
Is this a case of “just following the rules”, or is Los Angeles bowing from political pressure of restaurant owners who feel the carts are too competitive? Portland’s own Koifusion Korean Taco Truck (Koifusion is friends with the LA based truck giant Kogi BBQ), weighs in with their feisty opinion here
What are your thoughts? LA taco truck crack down, justified or not? Is this something food carts and their adoring fans in Portland should be worried about happening in our fair city?