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Parking Crackdown Targets San Francisco Food Trucks

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Customers line up alongside food trucks in San Francisco's Financial District. (CBS)

Customers line up alongside food trucks in San Francisco’s Financial District. (CBS)

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — Food trucks in San Francisco’s Financial District will soon have to follow the same parking rules as everyone else, following new regulations that became law last month.

The streets are packed, and parking is at a premium in the Financial District at lunchtime. But for one kind of vehicle, it doesn’t seem to be a problem.

Business is brisk for many food trucks, with no apparent worries about the meter maid. Recently, KPIX 5 found trucks parked at expired meters, in yellow zones, red zones, even in the middle of construction zones, for three to four hours at a time.

Yet food truck regulations, issued by the San Francisco Department of Public Works, clearly state that “all applicable parking regulations shall be observed.”

So what’s going on? KPIX 5 put the question to department spokeswoman Rachel Gordon. “We don’t look at them for you can only park in a specific parking space or two parking spaces, which a lot of the food trucks take up. We give them the general location of the area they can park in,” she said.

But where in downtown can a vehicle park for 3 to 4 hours at a time? “I don’t mean to punt this but that’s really for the Municipal Transportation Agency to answer,” Gordon said.

Paul rose with San Francisco’s Municipal Transportation Agency didn’t have an answer either. “It has been a challenge to enforce these rules on food trucks,” he said.

Rose said his department has not been ticketing because the trucks have permits. But new regulations that just became law last month will mean a crackdown on food trucks.

“At a yellow zone you will have to follow those time limits, which means you could get a citation if you go beyond that,” Rose said.

The news is not good for food trucks, such as one we found in a yellow zone on busy California Street. Even though the truck is permitted to park in the yellow zone, the meter limit is four hours on Sunday and one hour every other day of the week. But KPIX 5 found the meter read well over an hour.

KPIX 5 asked the driver about that. He said that he had heard about the rules but couldn’t talk right then. Later on, manager Brian Ayres said his company is going by the book. “Our permit trumps whatever the regulations are for that particular meter,” he said.

A few blocks away, we found a food truck that was parked at a broken meter. Owner Gary Goldstein was defensive. “It is very clear that I have a permit to park in this spot from 6 in the morning to 10 in the morning, on Tuesdays and Thursdays only,” he said.

The city says all of this is still in flux, and it plans to iron it all out in a couple of weeks. There may be special exemptions to park longer at general meters, but yellow zones will definitely be out. And most trucks in downtown park in the yellow zones.

(Copyright 2013 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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