Long Beach is looking to update its regulations for food truck operators in the city, with ideas that include banning operations in parking-impacted neighborhoods and creating “food truck villages.”
A city-hired consultant met with members of the community Tuesday night during a virtual town hall to discuss the firm’s findings and what changes could be proposed to the council.
The process was requested by the City Council over two years ago when members sought to strike a balance between allowing food trucks to operate in the city while protecting brick and mortar locations that have to compete with those trucks.
The changes could include creating a food truck coordinator position in the city that would be a point of contact for all operators in the city, potentially designating parts of the city where trucks could operate in “villages” during specific times and aligning the city’s municipal code with state law.
David Bergman, the director of Lisa Wise Consulting, which the city hired to guide its process, said the city should also follow any changes with an outreach campaign.
“The municipal code doesn’t speak for itself,” Bergman said. “Someone needs to be out there letting people know what the rules are.”
While the City Council will have ultimate authority to amend or disregard any recommendations, Tuesday’s meeting provided a glimpse at what changes could be in store.
Some of the ideas discussed were not actual changes. Food trucks are currently not allowed to operate in parking impacted neighborhoods, which for Long Beach includes nearly all of Downtown, Central Long Beach, Belmont Shore and Naples. But Bergman noted that it’s a little-known rule to both city employees and food truck operators.
They could still operate with permission from a business that allows them to park in front of their location or in its designated parking area, something that’s become common with area breweries.
There are other parts of the municipal code that could be cleaned up like removing the city’s current rule that food trucks can only operate at active construction sites and coming up with clearer definitions for what a food truck is.
Making it compliant with California law could require food trucks to operate within 200 feet of a bathroom or hand-washing facility, or at least have permission from an adjacent business to use their facilities.
Any changes that the City Council approve would only affect food trucks. Other street vendors are typically subject to other regulations, some of which could change with new legislation introduced in the State Senate last month by Long Beach State Senator Lena Gonzalez.
Pablo Leon, a projects coordinator with the city, said that in addition to requiring all trucks to have a city business and health permit to operate in the city, additional permits are being looked at.
A permit from Public Works to park in the public right of way, and agreements to ensure that truck operators properly clean the areas they use while parked, could also be part of what the City Council ultimately discusses.
Leon said there are so many different policies from multiple departments currently in the city’s code that condensing food truck regulations could not only provide clarity to operators and also provide the city with more oversight over operations.
However, Leon was careful to say that no language has been drafted for the council’s consideration and the public outreach efforts will continue. The City Council is expected to receive a recommendation on potential changes to food truck regulations in the next few months.