Santa Monica, CA: Planning Commission to Consider Food Truck Permits

By Jason Islas | Santa Monica Lookout

Santa Monica, CA — Santa Monica’s Planning Commission Wednesday will consider amending the Municipal Code to allow food trucks to park at off-street sites on three of the city’s major arteries.

The proposed change to the code would allow food trucks to gather at designated sites under a Performance Standards Permit (PSP). The recommended change would create venues throughout the City where food trucks could congregate and sell food to passers-by without taking up parking spaces.

“Off-street food truck venues would enhance the pedestrian experience by offering a variety of inexpensive food options to area pedestrians,” City staff wrote.

The move would encourage more events like the weekly gathering of food trucks at the California Heritage Museum parking lot on Main Street on Tuesdays, staff said.

But the permits would come with limitations to provide sufficient area for parking, pedestrians, restrooms and trash containers, staff said.

The designated off-street sites would require “a minimum of 15,000 square foot of open area on the parcel and 1 food truck per 2,000 square feet of open area,” staff wrote.

Under staff’s recommendation,  “no food truck venue operate more than three days per week or before 8 a.m. or after 11 p.m., including set-up and clean-up.”

There are also recommended provisions against litter.

Not only would Main Street be impacted, but so would Pico, Lincoln and Santa Monica Boulevards.

Though City officials are pushing for a permit to allow off-street food truck vending, last year, the council passed an ordinance to stem late-night vending on Main Street, citing safety concerns.

In November, the Council passed an ordinance that banned food trucks along Main Street from 1 to 3 a.m. on weekends.

The ban came after police and neighbors complained of bar patrons crowding the sidewalk, making noise and generally engaging in risky behavior such as jaywalking.

“The sidewalk becomes unusable,” City Attorney Marsha Moutrie told the council on November 8. “Pedestrians cross in the middle of the street and many of them are intoxicated.”

Since the ban, Santa Monica Police have reported that many of the problems with sidewalk crowding and noise have been mitigated.

Nonetheless, staff maintains that off-street food truck vending helps meet some of the goals outlined in the City’s Land Use and Circulation Element (LUCE).

“Main Street should accommodate a variety of commercial uses that provide daily necessities for those living in the surrounding community, tourists and the greater Santa Monica area and off-street food truck venues provide a variety of inexpensive food options for the entire community,” staff wrote.

Staff included Pico, Santa Monica Lincoln Boulevards in their recommendation.