S.B. COUNTY: Supervisor Suggests Allowing Food Trucks

By IMRAN GHORI | The Press-Enterprise

San Bernardino County may try to get a bite of the increasingly popular gourmet food truck business.

Supervisor Janice Rutherford said Tuesday at the Board of Supervisors meeting that she would like to look at legalizing the businesses — which are banned — in the county’s unincorporated areas.

“We need every opportunity to create jobs and give people an opportunity to create their own jobs,” she said.

Rutherford said she plans to discuss the issue with the county’s environmental health department, which regulates food establishments, and interested businesses before introducing an ordinance.

She described the industry as a “perfect opportunity” for those seeking a low-overhead business venture.

Food trucks featuring gourmet menu items such as Korean tacos, Indian dosas and crepes have exploded in popularity in Los Angeles and Orange counties, with dedicated followers tracking their locations on Twitter.

But both Riverside and San Bernardino counties have strict guidelines that limit food trucks to selling only pre-packaged foods and drinks.

Hot, freshly prepared foods can be sold only at special events at a specific location such as a festival. Limited exceptions are allowed for carnival food such as hot dogs and popcorn.

“When you look at the food truck phenomenon that’s occurred in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles, Orange County, Boston and Washington, D.C., we’re just behind the times,” said Rob Perhamus, a Fontana resident seeking to get into the business as a supplier to food trucks.

Perhamus approached Rutherford about the issue after looking into San Bernardino County’s regulations regarding food trucks.

Matt Geller, CEO of the SoCalMFVA – Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Association, said many of the regulations banning food trucks haven’t been updated to reflect the new trends in the industry.

The latest food trucks have modern refrigeration, venting and cooking equipment that can address health officials’ food-safety concerns, he said.

“When you see some of these new trucks, they’re really amazing,” Geller said.

Perhamus said he believes demand is strong in the Inland area. Last week he saw 200 people waiting for an hour in Pomona to buy food from Kogi BBQ, which sells Korean barbecue.

“You’re providing a product that people want in a place they want it, at a time they want it, at a price they can afford,” he said.