San Francisco cooks up tighter food truck laws


San Francisco’s food trucks should expect road blocks if city officials green light harsher regulations Monday.

The latest bit of legislation, set forth by S.F. Supervisor Scott Wiener, is primarily aimed at establishing a truce between the city’s brick-and-mortar restaurants and the meals on wheels biz.

Some restaurant owners — who’ve said food trucks have stolen away up to half of their business — have called for stricter regulations on how food trucks and stands operate.

Wiener’s new law creates a buffer zone of 75 feet between trucks and brick-and-mortar eateries, restricts the number of trucks that operate downtown at a given time, and limits food vendors to selling at one location no more than three days a week.

Additionally, food truck business owners will have to apply for new permits if they want to change where they serve, add locations or serve after 8 p.m.

Up to this point, Wiener said the rules have been too lax. He told SF Business Times in November:

“We should encourage the food trucks’ success. However, a lack of sensible and consistent rules regulating them has caused confusion and frustration.”

But it’s not all about putting on the brakes.

The new law allows vendors to set up 500 feet around public middle schools or junior highs — up to 1,000 feet closer from where current regulations dictate.

The proposal’s guidelines took more than two years to hash out, according to Ken Cleaveland, who worked on the legislation on behalf of a group of large building owners in the Financial District. Local groups such as the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and Off the Grid also had input.

Still, others feel the restrictions will be too, well — restrictive.

Joshua Meadow of SOMA StreEat Food Park told Eater SF he’s concerned the new law will dampen entrepreneurship:

“Food trucks are a great starter business because they’re much more inexpensive to get started than a full restaurant … but the permitting process is already quite difficult, and I would hate for this to keep people from starting businesses.”

The plan is expected to be heard and voted upon by the Land Use Committee on Monday.

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