Malibu Crackdown on Food Trucks in the Works

The Malibu City Council is expected to discuss possible further regulations on mobile vendors -- like food trucks -- and billboard displays that dot Pacific Coast Highway in response to complaints from residents.

With complaints about food trucks and other mobile vendors on the rise in Malibu, the Malibu City Council is set to discuss the city's options in putting more restrictions on the businesses later this month.

Councilwoman Laura Zahn Rosenthal said she is in favor of enforcing laws already in place that regulate food trucks and other mobile vendors.

"I am hoping that we have the right to eliminate mobile vendors from the State Highway per Section 731 of the State Highway code. As you can see, this would be the best case scenario regarding this issue," Rosenthal said. "For once, having a state highway as our main street would be an asset." 

The meeting is set for 6:30 p.m. Nov. 13 at Malibu City Hall (see the attached agenda report to the right).

Most concerns aired by residents over the past several months before the council stem from food trucks along Pacific Coast Highway, especially on the corner of Heathercliff Road. Other complaints have been made about a juice truck in the Cross Creek area and vehicles that rent recreational equipment near the Malibu Pier.

According to a city staff report prepared by Associate Planner Joseph Smith, the city is working to step up enforcement through the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department of existing provisions in the State Streets and Highway Code, which limits parking on public rights-of-way to 72 hours.

The council could also consider extending those regulations to other public rights-of-way other than along PCH, but that would require an ordinance, the staff report states.

Restrictions by other cities, including in Manhattan Beach, have generated lawsuits, something Malibu hopes to avoid.

"Regulating these uses is challenging for a variety of complicated legal and policy reasons, and, in general, municipalities have been limited in the extent to which they can regulate," according to the report.

Matt Geller, chief executive officer of the SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association (SCMFVA), said his organization has worked with cities in the past to "ensure mobile vendors are able to do business the way the state intended."

Geller said the SCMFVA is willing to help advise the city on what other coastal cities have successfully done to regulate mobile vendors.

"Malibu's a very cool, kind of hip place. This kind of trend has taken cities by storm. They have a lot of people who really like it. It's balancing new trends with regulations that are sound and don't go above and beyond their municipal power. We love trying to get cities in a place where they are comfortable with mobile vending," Geller said.

Earlier this month, the city spent $38,000 to install 39 trash cans near bus stops along Pacific Coast Highway as part of an effort to reduce the amount of trash near food trucks.

The council will also consider putting further restrictions on mobile billboards.

Rosenthal said regulating the billboards may be more difficult.

"I am certainly in favor of finding ways to curtail these visual blights and distractions," Rosenthal said.

Jamie Ottilie November 05, 2012 at 06:23 PM
I don't really have an issue with the food trucks if they are properly licensed and regulated. The county requires licenses and inspections and if those are current then let them stay. I have gotten food from the blue truck @ pt dume and go to the juice truck that got kicked out of the lumber yard (only thing I EVER patronized there). I think the city could speak to the trucks about trash and that issue would go away - failing that - if it is the patrons - have the sheriffs write some littering tickers and that issue will go away quickly. Isn't the Kayak truck a 'locally owned' business? It seems to me that there has been one there since I moved here in the 80's? Suggesting that you wouldn't allow food trucks to go to construction job sites is just silly - that is how the entire business got started. Perhaps we should court some of the gourmet trucks running around LA?
Saltwater November 05, 2012 at 06:46 PM
My biggest issue with catering trucks besides the potential for more litter is that they take away business from brick & mortar restaurants and that's not fair to a business owner who has to pay for rent, utilities, provide parking, REST ROOMS, etc, etc, etc. only to have some fly-by-night catering truck operator pull up and take business away from him or her. How would you feel if you had a store that sold widgets and a guy in a widget truck pulled up in front of your store and opened for business? Is that what you want for Malibu? Seems contrary to the ideals being put forward.
Hans Laetz November 05, 2012 at 06:57 PM
I wouldn't care to eat there, because the driver obviously disdains washing his hands or other socialist practices. But I would laugh at his idiocy just as hard.
Jamie Ottilie November 05, 2012 at 07:41 PM
well 1. they aren't really fly by night businesses - the registration and licensing process is pretty involved. http://www.publichealth.lacounty.gov/eh/docs/vip/MobileFoodFacilityInspectionGuide.pdf 2. who are they taking business from? I haven't seen a drop off at Lily's, Howdy's, La Salsa or Sunlife - nor have I heard any complaints from local business owners? So who is it that is losing out here? I live here and own a business that brings people into Malibu every day - and they would all like more affordable lunch options.
V.P.A. November 05, 2012 at 09:26 PM
Love the food trucks. some even serving gourmet fare. Keep the food trucks in Malibu, they serve all walks of life. Yes, why did the juice truck get kicked out of The Lumber Yard? It too was indeed the only reason i went there. Think we should celebrate them making sure their patrons also understand the litter rules.


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