By Sean Maher | Oakland Tribune
City Council members set a plan in motion Tuesday to expand the city’s mobile food vendor program, which basically boils down to food trucks.
A pilot program active in the Fruitvale district since 2001 has been largely successful, and food trucks are a booming trend in Oakland and around the country. Twenty-five trucks have been licensed, and city staffers are asking permission to expand into other neighborhoods where they say they’re seeing demand, particularly in North Oakland.
Also on the table is the creation of a new permit that would allow the trucks to form groups — potentially leading to clusters of trucks or carts in the spirit of a famous collection of vendors in downtown Portland.
But Desley Brooks and Larry Reid, the council members who together represent all of East Oakland, are both opposed to having the program enter their districts.
The program has never paid for itself, Brooks said, and enforcement against illegally operating food trucks is at this point hugely ineffective. Reid said other businesses are struggling to find their footing in his district and that freewheeling street vendors are no help at this point. Neither is anti-food-truck, but both said the problems that already exist need to be dealt with first.
Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente (Glenview-Fruitvale) said the program, on the whole, has been a boon to his district and is generally in favor of the expansion.
He suggested Tuesday that the city’s parking enforcers be directed to target illegal food trucks by finding them where they park and issuing pricey tickets.
The council members appeared generally pleased to have a business sector in Oakland that’s seeing significant growth. Brooks’ and Reid’s colleagues seem happy to respect their wishes and keep the program out of East Oakland for now, but city staffers are continuing to work up plans.