Bill Banning Food Trucks from Parking Near Schools Is Withdrawn

Assemblyman Bill Monning (D-Monterey), who recently introduced a bill requiring food trucks to park at least 1,500 feet from any school during school hours, has just withdrawn the bill from the state Legislature.

A.B. 1678 raised a statewide outcry because of its potential economic impact on street food. In a dense city such as San Francisco, A.B. 1678 would have banned food trucks from 80 percent of the city.

After pressure from industry groups and politicians, Monning first amended the bill several weeks ago so that it shrunk the no-park zone to 500 feet, or one block, from public schools.

However, mobile-food associations weren't content to let the bill stand. Matt Cohen of Off the Grid reports that Monning recently met with a group of industry associations from around the state, including Off the Grid and Southern California's Asociación de Loncheros. “We essentially said that criminalizing a class of food vendors when a whole other class of food establishments aren't addressed is inappropriate,” Cohen says. By “other class” Cohen is referring to fast-food restaurants and convenience stores, which don't share the same restrictions.

Last week, Monning released a statement claiming that he will not give up on trying to prevent food trucks from selling unhealthy snacks to students. However, he acknowledged, “The challenge before us is working with a diverse group of stakeholders to establish a shared understanding about the adverse impacts of these practices and the necessity of a statewide legislative solution.” In other words, A.B. 1678 needs to be better thought through.

At present, San Francisco still has a local ordinance prohibiting food trucks from parking within 1,500 feet of public middle schools and high schools. In early March, Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation seeking to reduce that limit to 500 feet. It has not yet been voted on.

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