New Regulations Prohibit Food Trucks From 2 to 3 Blocks of Beach … and More

by on March 5, 2014 · 15 comments

in Culture, Economy, Environment, Ocean Beach, San Diego

OB Seafood truck mb 05

Ocean Beach Seafood in the parking lot of the OB Hotel. Photo by Mercy Baron

New food truck regulations just passed by the City will prohibit them near the beach in Ocean Beach. In fact, the new law will not allow any food truck – unless on private property – from operating within 2 to 3 blocks of the beach.  This will certainly bring smiles to restaurant owners in OB, but it is also bringing frowns to the mobile meal managers.

However, the new restrictions will not apply near the coastal communities until the California Coastal Commission weighs in and grants its approval

Yes, the City of San Diego finally took action to provide guidelines and new rules for the exploding gourmet food truck industry, on Monday, March 3rd, when the City Council approved an ordinance restricting their hours of operations, location prohibitions and permit requirements.

It was an effort to deal with the growing tension between the food truck operators and San Diego restaurants that feel their presence is unfair competition and with local residents who complain of their noise and commotion at night in their neighborhoods.

City Council President Todd Gloria stated in a press release:

“The ordinance is a fair approach to protect public health, safety and welfare while providing for mobile food truck operations on private property and in the public right-of-way, and I know food truck operators will benefit from having this clarity.”

Besides prohibiting the vendors from getting too close to beaches in OB, Mission Beach and PB, it also closed off the  Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy to the trucks. Also, their operation past certain hours in dense urban neighborhoods will be restricted.

With a substantial tilt in favor of the truck operators, permits will not be required for industrially zoned land and commercial office parks.  Otherwise, private property owners who wish to host a truck must obtain a permit, which has costs between $491 to $935 for each location.

Yet, food truck operators were less than thrilled with the new restrictions.

An owner of 2 trucks, Christian Murcia, told the U-T that he is weighing his options on whether to take legal action. He feels the new regulation:

that would prohibit food trucks from operating within 300 feet of a dwelling unit after 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 p.m. Friday through Saturday. His and others’ late-night operations downtown and in other urban areas dominated by apartment and condo complexes would have to shut down, he said.

“We frequently park our truck in the Gaslamp, and a lot of these regulations inhibit our business,” he told the council. “The Gaslamp regulation is just a back-door way to protect the restaurants.”

Mucria also organizes food truck gatherings.  When asked about the possibility of rules last month, Stuffed food truck owner Alex Gould said he and his spouse may be forced to relocate to another city if the restrictions become too harsh.

On the other side, Lynn McCoy, of Jolt’n Joe’s, which operates downtown told the media:

“It’s unfair to have food trucks anywhere close to a restaurant. There’s enough competition down here already without bringing the trucks in, who don’t pay the fees we do.”

Here is a list of the new restrictions (garnered from other media sources):

  • The ordinance requires the food truck operators stick to set hours of operation while in residential areas. If the truck is within 300 feet of a home, it can serve between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and between 6 a.m. and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
  • If they pick a space with “limited on-street parking,” the trucks will be required to move to private property to preserve the vehicle spaces and avoid pedestrian-vehicle crashes.
  • Operators are also required to clean 25 feet around their vehicle before serving.
  • Food truck operators themselves are not required to get permits, and neither are schools, hospitals, religious facilities, construction sites or other industrial area property owners.
  • Food trucks would be outlawed within eight blocks in the Gaslamp Quarter along Fifth Avenue and a six-block area of Little Italy.
  • No food trucks would be allowed within the first two to three blocks adjacent to the beach in such communities as Ocean Beach, parts of Mission Beach, Pacific Beach and La Jolla.
  • A prohibition on food trucks within “parking-impacted neighborhoods” surrounding San Diego State, University of San Diego and UC San Diego.
  • the trucks will not be allowed to sell alcoholic beverages, general merchandise or commercial services;
  • no equipment aside from refuse containers will be allowed outside the trucks;
  • no amplified music will be allowed; and
  • pedestrian and vehicular traffic should not be impaired.
  • Food trucks will not be allowed to operate between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m. Sunday through Thursday, or 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. Friday and Saturday, within 300 feet of a residence. The regulations also set out how large the vehicles can be and how far away they need to park from intersections and schools.

News Sources:

U-T San Diego

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Tyler March 5, 2014 at 9:37 am

What a joke. So if I wanted to host a party at my house 2 blocks from the beach and I wanted a food truck to park outside my house, it would be illegal? This city is so dumb. Look at cities that are booming like Austin and Denver. They have vibrant food truck scenes.


OB Mercy March 5, 2014 at 2:29 pm

Freakin’ ridiculous. This town has WAY too many rules and regs. Again, Los Angeles and other cities are WAY ahead of SD on this matter. What happened to free enterprise??

I watched a lot of biz owners chase off the OB Seafood Truck here in OB. They didn’t have this problem anywhere else in SD. Too bad, the owners moved back to Seattle, having felt very shunned by OB biz owners.


Liveinob March 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm

So, you’d rather have vacant buildings that used to be restaurants shut down because of food trucks? Please. Why should they get away with that?
Tyler. Have your party, just abide to the rules! OB Mercy, well miss you when you move to LA or any of your other cities that don’t have rules & regs.


ObJamie March 5, 2014 at 11:24 pm

If a restaurant goes out of business because of food trucks…it sucked.

“Get away with it”? lol you are hilarious.


Goatskull March 6, 2014 at 6:25 am
Tyler March 6, 2014 at 6:56 am

Are you trolling or just a Newport business shill?

Either way your statement to me was contradictory


obracer March 6, 2014 at 7:22 am

What’s next ? used car lots have to be three blocks from new car lots ? , can’t have a hardware store too close to a Home Depot ? , thrift store too close to Target ?
If a food truck serves good food FOUR blocks from the beach people will go.
Common sense is not very common at city hall.


Goatskull March 6, 2014 at 8:52 am

San Diego never fails at failing.


Chuck March 8, 2014 at 6:14 am

The city should also ban the Saturday Little Italy Farmers Market. I hear vendors are selling the very same ingredients used in local restaurateurs kitchens….right under their noses!!


Gavin May 13, 2014 at 10:51 pm

Let’s all think about people who live in a highly populated area who have limited parking and are trying to battle with every other neighbor to get a spot and a food truck comes into your neighborhood creating more trash within the area it works and not cleanup after itself. Wouldn’t that make you not favor a food truck who doesn’t pay any of it’s city dues to be part of your neighborhood? Is it okay for them to block off the parking spot when the truck is not there. How is that fair to the people who live in the neighborhood and pay rent and are deserving of a parking spot? Which we all know in highly populated city areas is difficult to find. I think that they need to follow every other rule mandated for a restaurant by city and state to be in a residential neighborhood. If will continue to be okay for them if nobody stands up and says something. Think about it people, having a food truck across the street from your home drawing in more people, not cleaning up after themselves, and try to command neighborhood presence is somebody who no one wants around. Alright, my rant is done.


Patti April 9, 2015 at 11:29 am

Who says that they are niot cleaning up after themselves? Our truck leaves any space it uses and the surrounding area CLEANER than when we arrived!


SDZ April 18, 2016 at 1:27 am

Every year we have tourists from Arizona do this exact thing you are describing, No one complains about the Zonies not cleaning up after themselves do they? We just end up cleaning up after they all go back home and wait for it all to happen again next year. I would much rather have food trucks in my hood than tourists that don’t respect my city.


Chuck May 14, 2014 at 8:13 am

Not sure I’ve seen any reports of food trucks taking up public parking to do business? From what I’ve seen they usually rent parking lot space from other private business. We’re not talking about the “roach coaches” that pull up for 15 minutes to serve local construction sites. These food truck owners are entrepreneurs who have found a more cost effective way to serve their product to the public. Often when they are successful the truck morphs in to a brick and mortar business later. I for one would welcome a few gourmet food trucks/trailers in the neighborhood.


OB Mercy May 14, 2014 at 10:03 am

Gavin, don’t know what your beef is with them supposedly not cleaning up after themselves. A food truck would NEVER be invited back somewhere if they didn’t clean up. I’ve never seen them leave a mess anywhere I’ve seen them.

Right on Chuck, I’m with you on all of what you said.


HC May 23, 2014 at 3:29 pm

I think this is a shame, and I do not even go to food trucks. Food trucks are not competing with a really GOOD restaurant…nothing can. Food trucks cannot even serve alcohol. If you are a restaurant that is serving mediocre food and does not have alcohol, then how are you making a profit anyways? Let the food trucks live!!!! As for the thought that the streets will be lined with vacant buildings where successful restaurants once were…I doubt it. If they were that good, they would figure out a way to compete. Perhaps the new rules need to apply more to trash that is left behind? Each food truck should have someone who is responsible for cleaning up in real time.


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