By Aaron Blevins, 12/13/2012
Oversized vehicle ordinance to reduce parking on Wilshire
The menu selections at the food trucks along Wilshire Boulevard may have become slightly leaner after the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved an ordinance to address oversized trucks parking on Wilshire Boulevard on Wednesday.
According to the ordinance, trucks that are larger than 22 feet long and seven feet high are prohibited from parking in spaces with oversized vehicle restrictions along Wilshire between Fairfax and La Brea avenues from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“It makes the street safer for everyone,” said Councilman Tom LaBonge, 4th District, the author of the ordinance. He added that the restrictions should increase visibility for motorists in the area. “It’s the safety that I’m concerned about, and I think it works it out.”
Food trucks have long been a source of frustration for some restaurant owners in the area, especially Dick Messer, owner of Johnny Rockets. He said food trucks siphon business from “brick and mortar” restaurants that are heavily taxed and regulated.
“Certainly, it will be a change for the area, as far as dining goes,” Messer said. “Hopefully, it’ll be helpful.”
In the past, officials have proposed creating an area where food trucks can congregate without affecting traffic.
“They should have an area,” Messer said, adding that the trucks also violate parking codes. “If people really want to eat food off a food truck, they should have to go to the food truck. …Get them off the street. Get them off Wilshire Boulevard. It’s a hazard.”
While the ordinance impacts any oversized vehicle, Matt Geller, CEO of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, said it was aimed at the food trucks along Wilshire Boulevard.
He said the trucks do not block visibility, and that officials have “clearly” not shown that the trucks pose a public safety issue. Geller said the city simply doesn’t want to work with food trucks.
“We’ve tried to work with Councilman Tom LaBonge’s office, but we’ve been shot down multiple times,” he said, referencing the city of Santa Monica, which created food truck restrictions by working with the area vendors. “The real losers are all the consumers. This is just really short-sighted.”
Geller said there are plenty of vendors with trailers or carts that would fall under the size restrictions. Those vendors may flourish under the new restrictions, but demand will spike for the spots along Wilshire Boulevard and consumers will have fewer menu options when dining at the trucks, he said.
“This clearly doesn’t work for everybody,” Geller said, adding that there were no studies conducted to further identify any issues.
He said mobile food vendors pay sales tax to the county, which allocates the funding to the cities using a “really weird type of equation.” The vendors also pay for truck rental, overnight parking fees at a commissary and business licenses in the cities in which they operate, Geller said.
“The fees for operating a food truck are very expensive as they try to service more customers,” he added.
On Wilshire, food trucks tend to congregate near LACMA, between Fairfax and Curson avenues. In that area, oversized trucks will lose as many as 20 spots on the south side of Wilshire Boulevard, while retaining as many as 20. There will be no parking for oversized vehicles from Orange Grove Avenue to Ogden Drive, and between Curson and Masselin avenues.
LaBonge said he worked with the city’s Department of Transportation to create the ordinance. He said the department will post notices about the restrictions before enforcing them within 30 days.
“There’s room for everybody,” LaBonge said.