Food Truck Owner: 'I Try to do My Best'

Criticism is mounting over the presence of food trucks and a junk removal truck on the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Heathercliff Road in Malibu.

A local food truck owner said this week the trash build up around the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Heathercliff Road does not solely come from her customers.

Esperanza Lima, who owns one of the two food trucks frequently parked at the location, said she has been coming to the popular intersection for some time.

"Before I leave, I try to leave the area clean," Lima said.

She said most of the trash she picks up comes from Jack-in-the-Box and other businesses.

"I try to do my best all the time," she said, adding that she has a dream of opening up her own inexpensive, but tasty restaurant in the area.


At Monday's City Council meeting, Malibu resident JD Stevens spoke out against the growing number of food and junk removal trucks along Pacific Coast Highway at Heathercliff Road because of the amount of trash and threats to public safety.

"I think the council, except for the two newest members, should be ashamed of their apathy to the situation on Heathercliff," Stevens said.

He called the area "disgusting" because of the junk removal truck and the trash caused by customers of the "catering trucks."

"I see people pulling out, almost causing accidents every single day," Stevens said. " ... I’m sick of it and I wish this council would do something about it."

According to Malibu City Manager Jim Thorsen, the city has reached out to some of the owners to try to get cooperation.

"As long as they’re out there legally and are licensed, they are allowed to be out there," Thorsen said.

Under state law, the junk removal truck is allowed to park on Pacific Coast Highway.

Councilwoman Laura Zahn Rosenthal said she would like to see a trash can installed near the bus stop.

"The food trucks are really a problem for me because of the trash," Rosenthal said. She said she often takes pictures of the activity there and sends them to the city's code enforcement and the sheriff's department.

She added that card tables were removed from the area around the food trucks already.

"I know it looks like nothing is being done, but some of the things we can do and some of the things we can't," she said.

Councilman Skylar Peak said the trucks are hurting local businesses.

"I spoke to some of the business owners about this and they are very frustrated. That really has crushed a lot of their business," Peak said.

Supportive customers

Alex Vega, who frequents Esperanza's food truck, said sometimes he does not have enough time to take a full lunch break.

"We get lunch breaks at different times," Vega said.

A customer who would only give the name Pablo said he enjoys the food trucks.

"It's easy for me to get to," Pablo said. "They're good people. They're just trying to make a living."

Jackie Robbins, who has lived in Malibu for 40 years, said she also frequents the trucks.

"I love Lily's, but you have to wait for a while. I prefer this fast food to the other fast food in town," Robbins said.

Phone calls to the junk removal truck owners were not returned.

Kelli September 27, 2012 at 01:41 PM
Agreed - the trucks are an eyesore. They ruled out people parking cars in the same area with 'for sale' signs a few years ago -- the junk truck needs to go without further delay. It serves NO purpose being parked there and is getting "free advertising" at the expense of residents and motorists. On another note -- 'sandwich board' advertising is supposedly not allowed in the City. Then why is it that two boards advertising D'Amore's Pizza are a permanent fixture at the entrance and exit at the PC Greens parking lot. They're not only an eyesore, but they are dangerous: severely limiting visibility when trying to exit the lot. They block proper view of oncoming traffic. While sitting in at Plate for meals, I've seen several cars nearly escape a collision because they simply couldn't see oncoming traffic as a result of the sandwich boards blocking the view. And the Sheriffs are frequently in that lot and do nothing.
Hans Laetz September 27, 2012 at 02:39 PM
Anyone who patronizes the Junk Removal jerks should be ashamed of themselves.
Diane September 27, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Wow, that is harsh...
Rick Metzler September 27, 2012 at 05:17 PM
Just a couple of points from a local small business owner who actually lives here … A) Investment & Motivation Doing business in Malibu is expensive. We run a local business and also live here and it’s not easy but it means something to us to live and work within our community. Doing this is getting more and more difficult and the biggest reason is simply that the cost to do business here is getting out of control and we’re not competing on an even playing field. We’re up against companies with supporting revenue and capital that is coming into town from outside sources with interests that have nothing to do with Malibu and it’s community. The money comes in from out of town and the money that is made here is taken back out of Malibu. Malibu in general is quickly becoming a market place for outside businesses.
Rick Metzler September 27, 2012 at 05:18 PM
B) Continuity While I really feel for those that want to make use of the opportunities here, this already well known dynamic of entrepreneurs coming in from out of town to make a buck is made even worse for the true “local business” when someone comes in that isn’t being asked to comply with the same rules and regulations that everyone else is.
Rick Metzler September 27, 2012 at 05:18 PM
C) Do what’s right, not just what looks good Lastly, this is not limited to the food & garbage truck. There are plenty of people doing in business in Malibu that have known the right people and have flown under the radar getting away with stuff that isn’t really legit so it’s a bit hypocritical to point at these guys only because people don’t like the way it looks. So as long as it’s fashionable or “Malibu Chic”, it’s ok to not follow the rules … ? I digress … One of the things we should be able to rely on by any governing body is a high enough level of consistency and continuity in both the policies and the way they’re enforced so that enough equitability can be established to encourage our faith in that governing body's directive(s). As long as people are worrying about the way things look more than the way things are, we’ll continue to head down a path that continues to turn Malibu into Disneyland.
Terry September 27, 2012 at 05:29 PM
food on the trucks is pretty good. service is fast. be nice if the city makes a space available for them with trash cans etc and charges rent. the parking in the heathercliff center is non existant. pavillions takes an hour for one sandwich. lillys is good if u have all day to wait. i dont understand why a city counsel person (laura rosenthal) is saying they are working on getting a trash can. how hard can that be.
Hans Laetz September 27, 2012 at 06:20 PM
That junk man is trashing our beautiful city with his ad trucks. Of course, he has a constitutional right to do that. And we have an equal right to say he deserves scorn and boycott. Anyone who patronizes people who have no regard for our community should ask themselves if they would like those trash trucks parked at their homes.
John Mazza September 27, 2012 at 06:21 PM
The city has the right to establish local business licenses that would regulate such activities. We have plenty of businesses that compete with local businesses other than food trucks such as kayak rentals. Our city council is against code enforcement and licenses so you get what you voted for. When the retail diversification issue came up last year and 100s of people showed up at city hall the city could not even tell everyone what businesses were in the city since there was not even a business registration system. That was last March and the city council voted to come up with a retail diversification ordinance. Nothing has happened. Can you imagine food trucks parked for hours in the same spot in Beverly Hills. Dom't let them tell you they can not do anything about it. It is time to grow up and be a real city.
hellwood September 27, 2012 at 06:39 PM
there should be a law that restricts including contact info once the font size exceeds a certain limit
Kelli September 27, 2012 at 06:46 PM
The Council needs to step up and stem the flow of this sort of parking/enterprise. The City/Sheriffs are very lax when it comes to enforcing even the overnight parking - for which there is a ban. Campers along PCH - notably at the top of Malibu Road in the dirt area, are a prime example. Why should these overnight "campers" be allowed to elude the 'no overnight parking' restrictions -- there's a campsite for RV above Corral, within a stone's throw of where many of the offenders park. I disagree with John where he says you "get what you voted for." I didn't vote for rampant commercial vagrants, as it is. C'mon council - step up to the plate, here. Get a special referendum if that's what you need to know how your constituents really feel. I've lived in Malibu over 20 years, and it's not going to get better unless the people make themselves heard. So -- people -- deluge the council with letters, emails and faxes. That's what it's going to take.
R Y A N September 27, 2012 at 06:58 PM
First comes registration, then fees, regulation, taxation, gross-receipts taxes, you name it. Locals know what the local businesses are; local businesses advertise and have local phone numbers, they're in the phone book, may attend Business Roundtable meetings/donate to local causes/join the Malibu Chamber of Commerce, etc. The Invader mobile businesses, and Aggressor/conquest new businesses attack the existing customer base to reduce patronage of existing local businesses to below their break-even levels, causing employee shrinkage, rent defaults, and/or store closures. Many times those outside-funded Aggressor businesses take over the entire customer base, then raise prices, or fail/close themselves (Blockbuster, Wherehouse/Verizon Wireless authorized reseller, and Kinkos to name just a few). Real estate lessors like the turnover, inherited tenant improvements, and high-priced rent while they get it -- and get it from the next newbie business -- over and over.
Jessica E. Davis September 27, 2012 at 06:58 PM
Please do not use curse words in the comments. Thank you.
R Y A N September 27, 2012 at 07:17 PM
I did not curse, Jessica. Who the .... are you referring to? LOL. Did you censor another commenter? Which one?
Rick Metzler September 27, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Ryan, You and I are on the same page ALMOST completely. We need to really turn things around here, instead of our locals spending money with outside companies, we need to keep it in our city. The only separating opinion I have from what you've posted is this: Because of the cost in Malibu to do business, let alone live, in order for the "local business" owner to survive, we need to have more revenue than what the locals can generate so this means that we rely on visitors to support our Malibu economy. My martial arts school does not make use of such visitors but most businesses here in Malibu are set up for this. So the locals knowing who the locals are isn't enough any more .. . . .
R Y A N September 27, 2012 at 08:31 PM
The silly idea being floated is that ALL Malibu businesses need to pay an annual registration tax so that the City will know who to cite/notice for alleged code violations. That succumbs to paper-shuffling rather than getting the cops and/or code enforcement to actually respond in real time and do something when the violations occur (with regularity) on a public street. Local safety laws apply to Pacific Coast Highway, such as disturbing the peace, sleeping in vehicle, parking limits, etc. Just because the City doesn't OWN Pacific Coast Highway doesn't mean the laws don't apply. The opportunistic mobile businesses would be legitimized if they paid a business license fee. If mobile food trucks only came during the bright, sunny days of summer to catch the peak visitor traffic, then local businesses would not receive that visitor/summer boost in sales needed to bankroll the remaining 8 months of the year. Such a fee would be a pittance toward their lack of space rent cost. In the mid 1970's, the Proposition 13-strapped City of San Marino charged a business registration fee to gardeners doing business in their city. It didn't seem to have a legitimate purpose, and could really be considered a tax. Fines for non-compliance lined the City coffers. It was a program looking for a purpose.
J. Flo September 27, 2012 at 09:03 PM
The Diversity Ordinance, at this point, has been sent to the Malibu Deep Freeze. All that hard work by hundreds of residents - has meant little at City Hall. Disappointing? Frustrating? Insulting to the residents? You bet. This is why so many good, solid citizens just simply give up, we have to wonder if that isn't the plan . . . ? I spoke to a council member yesterday who is going to start the push again - and again and again. Like moving a bolder on the beach.
Hans Laetz September 27, 2012 at 09:57 PM
Other cities with state-owned highways in them regulate uses on them. Even our city acknowledges it can regulate PCH if the state bureaucrats agree to the regulation. Since coastal access is not an issue, parking there can be banned BY THE CITY as it infringes on the sight line around the slight curve to Portshead -- a valid and worthy public safety reason to ban parking there. The landowner could then prohibit parking on his sliver of private property between his fence and the road. Of course, the trucks will move. Lunch trucks could be licensed and cited for lingering morre than one hour without bathrooms. Concerns about odors and spills should prompt regulations about septic truck transfers. And a public "boycott" should be encouraged against the junk jerk.
Nancy Rosenquist September 27, 2012 at 11:59 PM
I see both sides of this issue. Problem is, Malibu welcomes the workers who get up early and take buses to get here hoping for daily work...truck food is cheap. Then there are the Malibu or Ventura folks who get hungry or thirsty on their rides to work... How many restrictions are enough and how many are too many? We who are lucky enough to live in Malibu should know the perils of all of PCH by now... If a business or food truck or whomever (not necessarily the junk truck!) wants to open their business to Malibu (and if Malibu after the fact) decides to penalize them for ingenuity in making a living then why do we have the right to call this a community? It takes all types to make Malibu thrive, not just high end stores and restaurants...
R Y A N September 28, 2012 at 12:16 AM
Out of place comment by Editor 5 hours ago. No curse words anywhere around here!
hellwood September 28, 2012 at 12:21 AM
I see both sides too, but enough is enough. people who find loopholes to exploit our community need to split. the commercial use of our beaches is a perfect example. the paramotor guy is making a fortune illegally on our beaches and creating a huge liability. the guy at paradise cove is making loot serving tourists alcohol on the beach. fitness classes are popping up all over the beaches. it only encourages more people to creatively abuse our town. we are liable for each and every one of these people if there is some sort of accident as well.
hellwood September 28, 2012 at 12:26 AM
RYAN some dude named Scott enthusiastically said: "Totally agree! Those ******* D'Amore's Pizza signs/trucks are very dangerous to motorists and cyclists. Great call Kelli! They gotta go."
Diane September 28, 2012 at 12:32 AM
This thread is so boring...If only there was better landscaping and better fast food on PCH... Isn't that the issue? By the way, who doesn't have junk?...
robert davis January 01, 2013 at 03:11 AM
jd steven . you scum bag low life


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