L.A. Street Food Wars


City Councilman Tom LaBonge is taking regulatory aim at one of Los Angeles' latest trendy distinctions--our proliferation of popular mobile "food trucks" dishing out tasty food on sidewalks across the city.

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The Los Angeles Times tells of LaBonge's efforts, and the backlash:

Last Friday, Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge...introduc[ed] two motions that could lead to food trucks being banned on many city streets. One proposal asks city staff to study what other cities have done and to look into prohibiting trucks from parking at metered spaces in commercially zoned areas. The other calls for a report on the creation of specially designated catering-truck parking zones.

Food truck owners and patrons -- famous for their fervor and their mastery of social media sites such as Twitter -- have mounted a campaign against the proposals and the councilman himself.

Someone has set up a Facebook page called "Los Angelinos Against Labonge." An online petition "against any city bill that would limit access to the food trucks" had racked up 2,000 digital signatures in just three days. Food truck supporters accosted LaBonge during his community bicycle ride Wednesday evening to complain about his proposals.

One thing is, LaBonge is acting in response to the specific lunchtime situation on around the corner of Wilshire and Curson, while his proposed solutions could cause trouble for mobile food vendors citywide. And past attempts to curtail mobile cuisine haven't fared well:

Last year a court commissioner nixed an ordinance passed by the City Council in 2006 that prohibited food trucks from parking in the same spot for more than half an hour in a residential neighborhood and more than an hour in a commercial area. A similar law adopted by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was tossed out by a judge in 2008.

L.A. isn't alone in declaring public war on peripatetic eating. New York's city council is contemplating some new regulations that would make a mere couple of parking tickets enough to knock a truck out of the food selling game.

I blogged back at Reason magazine's web site way back in February 2008 on the L.A. war against the humbler, more street-level L.A. "street food"--the grilled bacon wrapped hot dog.

Image taken by Flickr user BeverlyHillsPorsche. Used under user Creative Commons license.

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