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Judge tosses out taco truck restrictions

August 28, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
A judge has thrown out a Los Angeles County ordinance restricting how long a taco truck can stay parked in one place.The ordinance required taco truck operators to move their vehicles every hour. If the truck was not moved, the operator could be fined up to $1,000 and face up to six months in jail.

Superior Court Judge Dennis Aichroth ruled Wednesday that the law, adopted in April, is too ambiguous and conflicts with the state's vehicle code.

The law was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors after restaurateurs complained that taco trucks parking on the streets near their businesses were drawing away customers and forcing some of them to the brink of bankruptcy. Although it affected only unincorporated sections of the county, not the city of Los Angeles itself, the area under the law's domain included the vast, largely Latino East Los Angeles neighborhood where many of the trucks operate.

The first driver to be cited, Margarita Garcia, challenged the ordinance along with other taco truck drivers. The judge sided with them and dismissed the citation issued to Garcia.

A spokesperson for Supervisor Gloria, who authored the ordinance, says the fight isn't over and the county will appeal.

"We feel this ordinance regulates quality-of-life issues, which are of ultimate importance to residents in our unincorporated areas," Molina spokeswoman Roxane Marquez said. "Our intent was not to put any catering trucks out of business but to ensure fairness to our residents - those who live in homes right in front of or across the street from where trucks do business everyday, all hours of the day or night."

There is an existing law on the books that fines vendors $60 a day for staying in one place longer than 30 minutes, but it's said the law is hardly ever enforced.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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