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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.

Dianna November 03, 2012 at 01:48 PM
I support this ;) I can't stand the food trucks there (anywhere really) or those junk collector trucks parked out there, the junk trucks seem to be trying to advertise, they even had a sale out on PCH. Looks trashy, and causes more traffic/congestion, and safety issues. I was driving down Grasswood, there was a food truck sitting in the middle of the road and so many people/workers standing around I could not drive thru, I finally had to turn around and exit the street and go a different route.
Dianna November 03, 2012 at 01:51 PM
How about a crack down on the men that stand on the corners as well? I heard/saw they had success on Fallbrook where they all used to hang out under the overpass :p
V.P.A. November 03, 2012 at 02:07 PM
Personally, I find nothing wrong with mobile food trucks, in fact I find them a happy & welcome alternative: 1. provided the food is healthy & up to cleanliness & food safety standards 2. That the trucks & their clientele cause no danger or obstruction on the Highway or roads, other than any other vehicle parked on the Highway. As far as I have observed, most of them are near where there are construction/renovation sites or beachgoers. Ie: enough room for peoole to pull over & park while buying their merchandise. The trucks are usually near trash bins & It is most often their customers who are not fastidious in disposing of their trash. I know from experience that generally, the trucks are very conscious of making sure their trash taken care of properly. Would hate them to be 'run out of town'. I certainly don't think that they want to ruin their businesses by being the cause of traffic danger or problems. What other reasons are there to object ? Would be interested to hear them. Have often wished, when attending something in & around the town hall, which is rather remote, that there had been a terrific food truck in the parking lot!
Hans Laetz November 03, 2012 at 03:52 PM
If there was a food truck on Grasswood, it was because there was a construction project with hungry workers. It should not have blocked the road, of course, that is just stupid. But do we really want to begrudge the hungry people? Do we really want to go after the man and woman in the food truck, trying to sell enough tacos de cabeza to feed their families? Is that what we are all about? The junk guy is another matter altogether. He is using our beautiful streets as a billboard. I pray no one patronizes that jerk. I wonder if he has a contractor's license and insurance? Why would anyone risk hiring a guy like that to give access to your property? If he is flaunting Malibu with his ugly ads, do you really think he won't find a way to jack the customer around? That looks like a liability lawsuit waiting to be filed.
J. Flo November 03, 2012 at 06:59 PM
There seems to be two different type of trucks. Those that come to feed hungry construction crews - and those that park in public places for free rent to sell to mainly tourists at shopping centers and beaches. The trucks used for feeding crews, from what I can see - are a necessity.
Hans Laetz November 03, 2012 at 09:37 PM
Well -- how exactly do you tell one truck vendor he is necessary, and the other he isn't? Legally speaking, just how do you do that? One might argue that the beach visitor has just as much right to buy a juice off a truck as the worker who needs a hamburger. If you make the argument that we need to insulate local businesses from out of town competition parking on a public street, are we getting near "Malibu Locals ONLY" territory here? The American Constitution and California Constitution do not allow jurisdictions to set up unfair barriers to outside businesses, generally. Are we saying people visiting the beaches don't have a right to buy food from a vendor if they choose? This makes me nervous. We live in a nation founded on economic freedoms. Vendors can be regulated as to time, place and manner, but those regulations must have an objectively-rational basis. And that rationale cannot be protecting local merchants -- that's unconstitutional. Unsafe or unhygenic behavior can be prohibited. Unwelcome behavior? Not so much.
John Mazza November 03, 2012 at 09:55 PM
" 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." ARE YOU KIDDING ME ? Somehow I don't think any of the vendors park in the same place for more than 72 hours. Even the kayak guy moves his truck and trailer. MORE IMPORTANT after a long wait (since March) the same hearing Nov 13 will consider doing something about our diminishing local shopping options. The city attorney says its is legal, now let's see if the council cares as much about the citizens losing their local establishments as it does about vendor trucks. They seem to want Hermes and Lavin more that taco trucks. PLEASE COME --IT MAY BE YOUR LAST TIME TO SAVE LOCAL MALIBU SHOPPING.
Trent Allen November 03, 2012 at 10:52 PM
Not sure who the food trucks are really hurting ? They may be the only way regular folks can afford to eat out in Malibu. Those of us who can't afford Nobu or Mr Chow or even Tra Di Noi would love to have an alternative. Yes they should be licensed and clean but I say bring them on.
Terry November 03, 2012 at 11:11 PM
the blue truck has great chicken burittos in 5 minuites at great prices and i am in my car and gone. u cant even find a parking spot in the point dume shopping center and at lillys u need to wait 40 minuites to an hour. at sunlife just give up. and the prices. of course who can blame them with the rent they have to pay. keep the food trucks but make them park safely and provide a trash container.
Kelli November 04, 2012 at 01:28 AM
$38,000 for 39 trashcans - really ?!?!?! That's nearly $1000 per trashcan. Are they gold plated? Do they empty themselves? C'mon, is ghat how the City chooses to waste our precious tax dollars? Did any of our council members try to get a corporate sponsor for the trashcans? Couldn't some of that outrageous expenditur been mitigated with some selective advertising? I'd welcome feedback on this from any of our council members!
Saltwater November 05, 2012 at 04:17 PM
If the presence of catering trucks necessitates having extra trash cans then that cost and the effort to pick up the trash should be shouldered by the food trucks. And where does it say that construction workers have to have be served by mobile food vendors? I mean if catering trucks didn't exist would they starve or would they bring their food to work with them like a lot of people do?
Saltwater November 05, 2012 at 04:19 PM
PS. Hey Hans- what if the truck had a NOBAMA sticker on it, how would you feel about that?
V.P.A. November 05, 2012 at 05:13 PM
The catering trucks are not just patronised by labourers! If they're treated with respect & asked to please subscribe to certain standards re the trash & roads, don't think there's a problem at all, What! almost $1,000. per trash can? That's ridiculous. Who was in charge of that in the Council? And I had fantasies about putting shelters over the bus stop benches to shield people old & young from the sun & rain - the elements generally!! Think one would need 100% sponsorship - let's hope with low key good-taste advertising!!
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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