Supes Approve New Food Truck Rules

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously approved legislation that clarifies and tweaks the laws for the city’s burgeoning food truck industry.

The legislation, authored by Supervisor Scott Wiener, creates a 75-foot “buffer zone” around the entrances to restaurants in which food trucks are not allowed to operate.

It also shrinks the buffer zone around schools and updates zoning laws to allow the food trucks to operate on college and hospital campuses, among other changes.

Wiener said food trucks “bring new and interesting food” to the city and are a way for people, especially women and immigrants, to become entrepreneurs in the food industry.

He said the trucks “activate public spaces” and “have broad public support, which we can see from the long lines forming around them.”

However, current city laws restrict some food trucks while allowing others to operate without permits, he said.

The changes outlined in his legislation were the result of two years of negotiations involving the owners of food trucks, restaurants and other stakeholders, according to Wiener.

Under the current law, food trucks can’t operate within 1,500 feet of schools, which amounts to roughly three city blocks, he said.

Wiener said the law blocked the trucks from operating in large swaths of neighborhoods like the Mission District. The new legislation will reduce the buffer zone to 500 feet around middle schools and 1,000 feet for some high schools.

Other high schools will have a smaller buffer zone of 750 feet because they are located in dense commercial districts, he said.

Supervisor Jane Kim said she was in favor of making the zone the same for all schools to simplify the law for business owners, but ultimately voted for the legislation.

The new regulations increase the penalty for trucks operating without a permit and allow San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency parking control officers to issue citations for violations.

Currently, only Department of Public Works inspectors can issue the citations, but Wiener has said the department does not have enough resources to regulate all of the food trucks across the city.

To become law, the legislation will need the mayor’s signature after it receives final approval from the board next week.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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