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Wednesday, November 07, 2012

Municipal Planners Say Existing Highway Laws Govern Food Trucks

• Council Scheduled to Consider Options in Debate Over How to Address Mobile Vending and Roadside Advertising Issues

BY BILL KOENEKER

Does the Malibu City Council want to impose additional regulations on mobile vendors and mobile billboard displays?
That's the question planners are asking council members at a council meeting next week on Tuesday night.
The staff was asked to bring back a report to give the council an overview of the issues as well as the options for enforcement possibilities.
As city officials have found out from some of their constituency, both the food trucks and mobile billboard displays have been operating in various forms throughout the city.
A number of residents have raised concerns over the number of food truck—and the customers that they attract—that congregate on PCH between Heathercliff Road and Portshead Road.
Critics of the food trucks allege that they create a safety hazard and are a visual distraction for motorists.
“Recently, staff has observed an increase in activity from these uses and received several nuisance and safety complaints from the public,” wrote Associate Planner Joseph Smith, in a report.
“However, regulating these uses is challenging for a variety of complicated legal and political reasons, in general municipalities have been limited in the extent to which they can regulate.”
Smith is expected to tell council members that here in Malibu, mobile vending remains largely unregulated by the city's municipal code provisions, but state codes have been identified that appear to allow the city to enforce mobile vending along Pacific Coast Highway.
The state code reads, “Any vehicle or structure parked or placed wholly or partly within any state highway, for the purpose of selling the same or of selling any article, service or thing, is a public nuisance and the department may immediately remove that vehicle or structure from within any highway. The California Highway Patrol and all peace officers from local law enforcement agencies may enforce the provisions of this chapter.”
An altogether different issue, but lumped together by municipal officials is mobile billboard displays, which are regulated by the city’s municipal code provisions, opportunities for improved regulation and enforcement are available given recent state legislation, according to the planner.
“Further discussion of these uses, including areas of concern for mobile vendors and mobile billboard displays are listed in the report including examples of other city regulations and options for enforcement.
The planning staff has observed three types of mobile vendor operations occurring in the same area for longer periods of time than is typical of traditional vending activities, such as a catering trucks serving construction workers at a work site for 30 minutes then moving on.
Planners cite traffic issues as concerns as well as sanitation, odor, noise, aesthetics, hours of operation and city liability.

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