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Palos Verdes gets tough on taco trucks

February 23, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
A common sight along the Palos Verdes Peninsula is under fire. They're the catering trucks that sell burritos, tacos and the like to hungry workers. But nearby homeowners are fed up and ready to see them go.The proposed ordinance would duplicate the one already on the books in neighboring Palos Verdes Estates. It would impose much tighter restrictions on those lunch trucks, saying that it's a health and safety issue. But others say the city is just trying to put them out of business.

They are a routine part of the lunch hour throughout Los Angeles County, and Rancho Palos Verdes is no exception. Mobile food vendors line the streets serving hungry customers, but that could soon change.

"It was creating an unsafe condition," said Carolyn Petru, Rancho Palos Verdes deputy city manager. "It was creating a nuisance for the adjacent residential homeowners."

Carolyn Petru is the deputy city manager of the seaside community. She says the city is considering a new ordinance that would require the mobile vendors to operate within 200 feet of a bathroom. That also goes on top of an existing ordinance that requires the vendors to move every 10 minutes.

"We are getting complaints about litter from the people that are buying food from the mobile food vendors," said Petru. "They are just leaving it around the streets. There's parking and traffic congestion where customers are coming to the site. They're jaywalking across the street to get to the mobile food vendor on a busy collector road."

"That kind of a law is clearly not for the public safety," said Phillip Greenwald, attorney for mobile caterers. "It's a prohibition."

Phillip Greenwald is a lawyer who's represented mobile food vendors for more than 40 years. He says the ordinance under consideration is unconstitutional.

"In essence, they are making it impossible for catering truck operators, vendors, to vend lawfully within the precincts of Rancho Palos Verdes," said Greenwald.

And the customers of the so-called "taco trucks" say the new ordinance is unfair.

"They're good people just trying to make a living like we are, and it's unfortunate the residents really try to shoo them away when they are trying to do us a service and trying do society a service," said construction worker Nick Resich.


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