Thursday, November 18, 2010
Chad has a great post below on the latest craze, food trucks. By coincidence, just yesterday I saw this SSRN paper by Ernesto Hernandez Lopez (Chapman): LA’s Taco Truck War: How Law Cooks Food Culture Contests. The abstract:
This paper examines the Los Angeles “Taco Truck War” (2008-9), when the city of Los Angeles and LA county used parking regulations to restrict “loncheros,” i.e. “taco trucks.” It describes the legal doctrine used by courts to invalidate these local restrictions. The California Vehicle code makes local food truck regulations illegal. Decades of court decisions affirm this. The paper sheds light, legal and cultural, on food truck debates, which will surely expand nationwide. It examines: the cultural and business arguments for food truck regulations; food’s role in migrant, community, and national identities; Mexican food’s influence in California culture; and recent trends in food trucks such as Koggi BBQ.
And from earlier this year, Alfonso Morales (Urban & Regional Planning, Wisconsin) and Gregg W. Kettles (Law, Mississippi College) posted Healthy Food Outside: Farmers' Markets, Taco Trucks, and Sidewalk Fruit Vendors, published in the Journal of Contemporary Health Law and Policy, Vol. 20 (2009). The abstract:
This paper explores the many dimensions of street vending and public markets, the multiple intersections vending and markets have with food regulation, and the historical connection markets have with other policy problems. We develop the article in four parts, following the introduction found in section one the article touches on three elements of law and public policy. The second section considers markets and merchants in public goods with their associated dilemmas. Our approach is to reconfigure the emphasis on public space as transportation by justifying the use of the street and sidewalk for street vending. The importance of public space for commerce and other creative activities bridges the second and third sections of the article. The third section chronicles the history of law and regulation around street and public markets. Here we emphasize how cities historically used public markets as public policy tools to address food security, employment, and to help those growing cities accommodate new immigrants. The fourth section focuses on public health by examining the law of outdoor food sold on the street. Through our analysis we set forth numerous suggestions for advocacy, policy, and legal reform.
Chad's right, food trucks are becoming a big deal. I was skeptical at first, but it looks like they have come a long way from the "roach coaches" I remember on Army posts. Check out the articles that he linked to, and for an even less highbrow alternative you can watch the Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race (you know that a trend has arrived when it gets a reality show). It's a serious question, though, how cities are going to choose to accommodate or regulate this phenomenon through their land use laws.