OAKLAND (CBS SF) – The Oakland City Council on Tuesday night approved a pilot program that will allow clusters of mobile food vendors to do business in parts of the city.
The legislation, authored by council members Rebecca Kaplan and Jane Brunner, passed unanimously.
Earlier Tuesday, Brunner spoke at a news conference at Frank Ogawa Plaza in front of City Hall next to three mobile food trucks that were set up for the occasion.
Brunner said the proposal would allow “food pods” in four of the city’s eight council districts—districts 1,2,3 and 4.
The ordinance defines a food pod event as the clustering of two or more mobile food vendors on a temporary basis in a commercial, industrial or open-space zoning district.
“Some council members would be delighted to have the food pods in their districts but some don’t want them,” Brunner said.
She said she wants the food trucks because “Oakland is in a food renaissance and our night scene is one of the best in the country.”
“We are celebrating the growth of home-grown food and local entrepreneurs who are contributing health foods to neighborhoods that need it,” she said.
Kaplan said she and Brunner tried to address the concerns of the owners of traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants by including them in the process of drafting the ordinance.
She said the food pods normally won’t be placed in areas where there are existing restaurants, and business owners will get advance notice and an opportunity to comment before the food pods are allowed to set up shop A food pod event organizer would be able to apply for a special food pod event business permit for no more than one date per week and up to 40 dates in a year.
If the pilot program is approved, it would stay in effect until a permanent policy is drafted, which Kaplan and Brunner hope will happen sometime next year.
Mayor Jean Quan said she supports having mobile food vendors in parts of Oakland, saying the vendors “are part of the whole urban scene these days.”
Quan said she thinks the food pods will be good additions in parts of the city that she said are “food deserts with not as many restaurants” or choices of places to eat.
The mayor said she also wants to ensure that the food pods don’t hurt the business of more traditional restaurants.
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