LA Restaurants Voice Concern Over City’s Proposal to Legalize Food Trucks

Food trucks may be the hottest new thing in the restaurant industry, but brick-and-mortar businesses in Los Angeles are hoping a proposal to legalize them will run out of gas.

According to the LA Daily News, the Coalition to Save Small Business is speaking out against the City Council’s plan to regulate street vending, out of fear that the popular eateries will take business away from mom-and-pop restaurants in the area.

The proposal comes on the heels of the city’s new minimum wage law, another major issue for local small businesses, that will hike hourly pay for employees to $15 by 2020.

The Coalition to Save Small Business is made up of over 1,000 stores, restaurants, and other businesses in Los Angeles. Carol Schatz, who helped form the coalition, doesn’t see how legalizing these new street vendors would be fair to pre-existing restaurants.

“You’re paying rent, you’re paying taxes,” Schatz said. “Vendors, even with a permit fee, there’s no way that compares to opening a businesses and keeping it going.”

Proponents of the new legislation contend it would be a smart financial decision for the city, producing $43 million annually in state and local tax revenue.

Food trucks, or “rolling restaurants,” are on pace to be a $2.7 billion industry by 2017 due to their low operating costs and unique menu options.

While Los Angeles isn’t the only city that has to deal with competition from food trucks, another city has found a happy medium when it comes to balancing restaurants and street vendors.

According to Bethesda Magazine, Montgomery County in Maryland is in the process of developing a designated “food truck zone” in an effort to quell the concerns of local restaurants.

The proposed changes in Montgomery include instituting minimum distances that food trucks must maintain from brick-and-mortar restaurants, as well as capping the number of food truck licenses provided by the county.

As for Los Angeles, supporters of the bill are continuing to fight back against the Coalition to Save Small Business. Local street vendor Alex Pablo, who sells pork sandwiches and $1 Cokes, thinks that the restaurants are overreacting.

“We’re not really competing with them,” Pablo said. “Our customers don’t want to spend $15 or $20 on lunch.”

Despite the strong opinions from both sides, food trucks in Los Angeles will continue to be deregulated for the foreseeable future. The Los Angeles City Council is expected to consider the proposal later this year.

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