San Francisco Issues New Rules for Food Trucks

Chef Luis Vazquez and his wife Maria de la Luz

by Carolyn Tyler | ABC7

Chef Luis Vazquez and his wife Maria de la Luz

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) — San Francisco has new rules for those trendy food trucks you see on the streets. The idea is to streamline the permit process. But that hasn’t necessarily made it easier for those vendors to get into business, and opposition to the trucks seems to be growing as well.

Vendors ABC7 spoke with say the new rules are pretty easy to understand. What they’re finding challenging is the growing push-back from some neighbors.

It’s got a catchy name, Doc’s of the Bay, and serves burgers and comfort food near a park in Emeryville, but gaining a foothold in San Francisco is a challenge. The owners’ applications for seven locations are all being contested.

“It looks like we’re in for a long process and it might be even harder than we think,” said Zak Silverman of Doc’s of the Bay.

New rules enacted last month make it easier to apply for a permit and to object. One spot where Doc’s wants to locate is in Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi’s district.

“I do support food trucks, as long as I think it’s well-vetted by the city’s permitting process so that neighbors have their ability and their concerns to be aired — and merchants,” said Mirkarimi.

John Konstin, the owner of John’s Grill in Union Square, says a food truck wants to roll up on his street. He’s concerned about traffic and competition, not for his fine dining establishment, but for the small cafes.

“There are a lot of other little businesses in this area who pay $30,000, $40,000, $50,000 a month and someone will come in and just be able to reap in a profit,” said Konstin.

“I think the reality of the competition is that there’s space for both brick and mortar and mobile food,” said Caleb Zigas of La Cocina, a non-profit incubator working with low-income chefs, including those who want to operate food trucks.

La Cocina’s financial assistance means Luis Vazquez and his family can open their Mexican food truck in Dolores Park this weekend. “For our family, it’s like a good start so we can have maybe a restaurant in the future,” said Vazquez.

But they, too, face opposition. One opponent is planning an unusual protest — a puke-in — supposedly with fake vomit. Vazquez, though, isn’t worried.

Vazquez’s truck was authorized by the Rec & Park Dept. Those who want to operate on city streets go through the Department of Public Works. Since the new rules were established, 70 have applied, but so far none have made it through the process.