Feature Photo: Customers line up at the Sukai Hibachi Bistro food truck one the Pacific Avenue frontage road in Stockton. (ROBYN JONES/CONTRIBUTOR)
A Stockton City Council committee is looking at ways to address concerns between traditional “brick and mortar” restaurants in the city and food trucks parked along the street outside these businesses.
The Legislative and Environmental Committee, met last week to consider amending city codes relating to food trucks. Vice Mayor Christina Fugazi and council members Dan Wright and Paul Canepa comprise the committee. They are considering where and how long a food truck can park on city streets, and how close they can be to established restaurants.
The committee is using food truck policies of three California cities – Elk Grove, Norwalk and Kerman – for guidance.
The committee made it clear they wished to strike a balance between what is fair between the food truck operators, who have every right to earn a living, and the brick-and-mortar owners and managers, who have the right to clear access to their businesses. Restaurant owners also face financial and regulatory burdens that food truck owners do not share.
Stockton has rules in place for food truck operators, including the need for permits and business licenses. Rules also state food trucks must move 400 feet every 30 minutes in a residential area, and 400 feet every three hours in a commercial zone.
Committee considers options
The proposed amendments include staying away 100 feet from a restaurant’s property line, moving the trucks every 40 minutes in a residential area, and every three hours in a commercial zone unless they are on private property with that business approval.
On the one hand, food trucks have regular customers who have become accustomed to finding their favorites in certain places. “It’s become part of Stockton culture. People know to go there,” said Wright of the food truck culture in town.
Fugazi agreed: “The food truck I go to regularly, if they weren’t there, I would freak out. I would want to know where they went.”
Meddy Mahgoub, owner of the food truck “Foreign Kitchen,” said if he had to move frequently, it would adversely affect his business.
“It will hurt the business. We all have a family, I have four children,” Mahgoub said. “I’m sure everyone on this street has a family. We’re doing something positive, bringing the tastes of different types of food to the city of Stockton.”
Some citizens have voiced their concerns
One of the largest groups of food trucks gathers on the frontage road on the east side of Pacific Avenue between Douglas Road and Benjamin Holt Drive, and the surrounding area. On most days, it’s not unusual to see as many as half a dozen trucks parked along the curb. The area also features established brick-and-mortar eateries close to where the trucks park. Among them are Chuck E. Cheese Pizzeria and Honey Baked Ham, which serves sandwiches and other items. Restaurants of Lincoln Center are across the street.
But a large contingent of food trucks in one concentrated area concerns some citizens. Stockton resident Jim Johnson spoke to the committee and voiced his thoughts about congested traffic and the trucks parking too close to the corners.
“I don’t have any trouble with food trucks, they have great food. But when you come out of the driveways (at businesses), the size of the food trucks, and they are one after another in both directions, you can’t see,” Johnson said. “You can’t see the traffic, you can’t see people walking or anything. That’s my only problem is that it’s extremely unsafe.”
But any future amendments to the codes will likely take time. It will be a month before the committee goes over suggested amendments, and the resolution must go before the full city council for approval.