Escondido Hashes Out Food Truck Issues

Escondido City Hall
  • Escondido City Hall

On November 28, a meeting was held at Escondido City Hall to consider opinions and concerns from the public regarding mobile catering trucks. Currently, city regulations do not allow food trucks.

Food-truck operators say that there has been a local demand by school fundraising and community organizations, special-events coordinators, and children's sports programs for mobile gourmet and specialty foods prepared on site.

Local restaurant owners fear that the trucks will take business away from their "brick-and-mortar" locations. Several attendees raised concerns about trash disposal, parking problems, traffic safety, and restroom availability.

Rebecca Lee, a food-truck operator, said she worked with several San Diego restaurants during past public events and did not serve the same type of food. She said that food-truck permits, local business licenses, and sales-tax payments would benefit the community. She also stated that the City of El Cajon recently sold food-truck attendance permits for $75.

Wendy Barker of the Escondido History Center said that it was much more expensive to offer conventional catering at the fundraising events she organizes. She also said that events featuring food trucks would increase attendance because social-media exposure and marketing would draw more people.

Scott Lucks, an Escondido resident and food-truck owner, said Escondido is the most difficult location to secure permission for food-truck operations and that Encinitas only required a minor use permit. He also addressed some of the critics' concerns, saying that truck workers must have a county health permit, comply with state law requiring that trucks park within 200 feet of restrooms, observe county regulations not allowing cooking during transport, and disposal of all of their trash and recycling.

Jay Paul of the Escondido Planning Department said that the city was in the information-gathering stage only. He said that proposed new regulations would have to be presented to the planning commission, go to a public hearing process, and finally to the city council. He said he "had no idea" of how long the process would take.

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I think Escondido may miss the boat on this one. These food trucks are the best thing that has happened to street food in ages. Not only do they offer interest and variety to the neighborhood, they give people a chance to taste some good food they might not otherwise. In fact, some of these food trucks are offering excellent, high-end cuisine that one would not get a taste of without going the whole nine yards, putting on a clean shirt and going through the Maitre D', which means a much bigger bite out of your wallet. I say roll on!

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