Elk Grovians have this year, as the meals-on-wheels craze sweeping larger cities like San Francisco and Sacramento has spilled over into the Grove.
All those crowds of patrons scarfing down fried macaroni balls and aioli-smeared sliders haven’t escaped the attention of city officials. This Wednesday, the city will hold a public meeting to discuss whether and how to change city regulations affecting mobile food vendors. According to a notice announcing the meeting, it will cover the following issues:
- Where should Mobile Food Vendors be allowed to be located, such as on sidewalks, in parking lots, etc.?
- When should they be allowed to operate?
- Should there be limitations of how many can locate on a block?
“The city has received more requests recently from people looking at holding mobile food events or asking how would they go about operating a food truck,” said city planner Sarah Kirchgessner. “They [the planning commission] felt that given the increase in interest it was time to look at our ordinance.”
Elk Grove has proven fertile ground for food truck operators chafing under Sacramento’s rules, which require trucks to move every 30 minutes.
But Elk Grove foodies might be surprised to learn that—at least on the books—the city’s regulations are more restrictive. Zoning code states that food trucks parked on streets must change location every 15 minutes and limits operating hours to between 7:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
That hasn’t stopped vendors like , Drewski’s Hot Rod Kitchen and Chando’s Tacos from holding multi-truck evening “roundups” in parking lots of Elk Grove businesses. The events can draw hundreds of customers.
Food truck operators argue that state law prohibits cities from regulating the trucks at all, unless they threaten public health or safety. A group representing vendors earlier this year after that city passed a partial food truck ban, saying the law conflicted with the California Vehicle Code.
“I think the city of Elk Grove should act on behalf of their citizens and the citizens want the food trucks there,” said MiniBurger owner Davin Vculek, who plans to attend the meeting Wednesday.
Vculek said he does not currently have an Elk Grove business license, but if the city asked him to get one, he’d happily oblige.
Kirchgessner said the city also notified local restaurant owners, the and the California Restaurant Association about the meeting.
Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Angela Perry declined to comment on the local food truck explosion. In other cities, however, brick-and-mortar restaurants have sometimes complained that the mobile eateries create unfair competition.
Kirchgessner said the planning commission had reviewed other cities’ food truck rules but wanted to hear from stakeholders before proposing any changes.
“We have not in any way decided on a possible model,” she said. “That’s the purpose of this meeting.”
The meeting will begin at 6:00 p.m. Wednesday in the City Council Chambers, 8400 Laguna Palms Way.