Gourmet food trucks find allies at SF City Hall


Dufty says the city wants to promote mobile food vendors because they provide entry-level business opportunities and add to the city's reputation as a foodie capitol. Dufty says the rules have been too complicated and the fees too expensive for vendors.

Under his plan, food trucks and push carts would apply for annual permits from the Fire Department and Public Health Department. The Public Works Department will have jurisdiction for the program and vendors could apply for up to five locations at a time. Nearby businesses would be notified and have the right to object if they feel the food trucks present unfair competition or other issues.

Matthew Cohen is founder of the San Francisco Food Cart, an organization that is a resource for the industry. He calls the proposed measure a step in the right direction.

"At the end of the day when people are going to spend a lot of money starting a business, uncertainty is the enemy of that," he said.

Cohen thinks this will help ease some of the uncertainty. He estimates there are 52 mobile trucks currently permitted for public property and another 50 that are in the city occasionally. The number of push carts is hard to estimate.

Kevin Westlye is the executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association. The GGRA initially had some reservations about the street food scene competing with brick and mortar restaurants. But Westlye says Dufty's legislation tries to strike a balance that protects conventional restaurants while allowing entrepreneurs to get their foot into the business.

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