California's love affair with food trucks turns cold

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2012/08/14 07:38:40 (permalink)

California's love affair with food trucks turns cold

California's love affair with food trucks turns cold amid regulatory dispute

California fell in love with food trucks – a phenomenon it exported across the US – amid hopes they would bring together disparate communities in a culture of outdoor dining.  
Strangers do indeed queue for the gourmet fare in a convivial atmosphere, but it turns out the food truck owners are now the ones in need of some unity. A row over regulation has pitted rival factions in angry accusations of bullying, scare tactics and dire warnings that the entire industry faces destruction.
In one corner is Matt Geller, chief executive officer of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, who opposes regulation as anathema.
His organisation's 150 members, sprinkled from Santa Barbara to San Diego, say city and state authorities have no right to restrict their businesses beyond public safety codes.
In the other corner is the newly formed California Mobile Food Association, or CMFA, in Sacramento, which says food truck owners should cooperate with regulation attempts.
Earlier this month, CMFA's president Chris Jarosz announced he was cooperating with state assembly members on a proposed law allowing cities to regulate food trucks.
This came amid a spirit of compromise in which Sacramento's food truck owners agreed with restaurants – who feared losing out to wheeled competitors – over where and when trucks could operate. The CMFA's compliance triggered an alarmed letter from Geller to local truck owners in which he all but accused the organization of treachery.
Support of state legislation would reverse the accomplishments of his harder line group and "likely destroy the mobile food industry in California", the Sacramento Bee reported.
Jarosz and other truck owners who favour compromise called the letter "threatening", "bullying" and "scare tactics" and said they would continue cooperating with Sacramento officials and explore possible state legislation. "It could erase what we've accomplished in the past two months," he told the paper. "It's important in the next six months that food trucks take care of each other and show respect for each other and the regulations."
However some truck owners such as Davin Vculek, owner of Krushburger, defended Geller as a champion. "He's worked so hard to give rights to the food trucks, and now the industry is working against him. A lot of politicians and big government are tied in with restaurants."
The dispute is the latest in a series of disagreements within a burgeoning industry which caught the Californian public's imagination and inspired imitators in Chicago, New York and elsewhere in the US.


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