Food truck regulations approved in Del Mar

By Claire Harlin

The Del Mar City Council on April 1 added a new chapter to its municipal code to address a new phenomenon that has emerged as a fun and convenient way to dine for city residents, but as uncharted regulatory territory for city governments.

Mobile food trucks, which have gained popularity through a number of TV shows and have thrived off of their interesting food concepts and ability to serve anywhere and anytime, can now officially be a part of Del Mar’s dining offerings, but with much more regulation that when they popped up at the parking lot across from Seagrove Park and began operating last year as a weekly evening event — much to the alarm of many residents and city officials.

After placing a moratorium on (and extending several times) mobile food truck permits in the city while analyzing the issue and drafting an ordinance, city staff came up with a set of rules that includes operating hours of 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and the prohibition of alcohol sales, in addition to a number of other parameters.

Del Mar Planning and Community Development Director Kathy Garcia said the goal is to have regulations in place before summer, and the council can revisit the ordinance later if needed.

The ordinance also addresses the control noise, smoke and odors. Dining events or gatherings are also limited to eight mobile food truck vendors at a time or one truck per 1,500 square feet, and there must be 7 feet of free and clear sidewalk if a vendor wants to operate streetside. If operating as a caterer, that’s the only case in which an operations permit isn’t required, but the truck must be on private property.

Last October, six food trucks operating under the company, Curbside Bites, rolled into the parking lot at 1601 Coast Blvd. and began serving foods from crepes to Italian food to gourmet hot dogs on Wednesdays starting at 5:30 p.m. To address concerns and implement parameters, the city issued a moratorium on food truck permits and the trucks ceased operations until it could formulate an ordinance.

Other terms of Del Mar’s mobile food truck ordinance:

• Engine idling limited to no more than five minutes per hour

• Waste and recycling bins required

• Food packaging must be biodegradable

• Events limited to central, north and beach commercial areas

• No overnight food truck parking

• Truck events in parking lots must occur during off hours of lots (no dual use)

• Restrooms required for patrons and food truck operators

• Must operate within 25 feet of an intersection controlled by a crosswalk, traffic light or stop sign

• Vendors must report sales tax revenue