Del Mar passes new food truck moratorium, continues analyzing impacts

By Claire Harlin

The Del Mar City Council on Jan. 14 adopted a 45-day emergency ordinance prohibiting the issuance of food truck permits while the city studies potential mobile vending regulations.

An identical moratorium was put in place in November after nine permits had been issued for a regular food truck event that had started up in the parking lot at 1601 Coast Blvd., and featured about six trucks every Wednesday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Renewal of the original ordinance would have required a noticed public hearing, and city documents state that city staff was unable to return to the council with an extension ordinance due to the council’s limited meeting schedule during the holidays.

The moratorium doesn’t prohibit existing license holders from conducting business and renewing their licenses, however, the weekly food truck event has ceased. The company behind the event, Curbside Bites, indicated on its website that there would be a food truck event on Dec. 5, but it didn’t happen.

Mobile businesses, particularly food trucks, are a growing phenomenon and somewhat uncharted territory for Del Mar’s city code.

Kathy Garcia, Del Mar Planning and Community Development director, said that the city’s current analysis and potential regulations will not just pertain to food trucks, but also trucks that offer services such as pet grooming and retail vending, which have been popping up around the country. She also named catering trucks, push carts, ice cream trucks, mobile grocery trucks and construction site lunch trucks.

The city will also be analyzing farmers markets and weekly bazaars as part of this study.

According to city documents, city regulations could potentially address the following: compliance with health and safety regulations; hours of operation; noise; truck density; parking requirements; restroom availability; lighting; signage; refuse collection and recycling; residential impacts; and traffic and pedestrian safety within the public right-of-way.

City officials estimate that the process of completing and adopting regulations will take four to six months, with an initial Planning Commission review in March or April.