Mexican street food

Taco Truck War Spreads to Sacramento

We’ve already seen this in Los Angeles, and truth be told, similar disputes have been going on for years in much smaller California cities like Modesto, Patterson, Ceres, Riverbank and Turlock.

But the regulations passed by Sacramento’s City Council in February seem pretty unreasonable, including a time limitation of 30 minutes in one location and no sales after dark. The time limitation is pretty severe, but the night restriction severely impacts folks who work the second and third shifts (police officers, janitors, nurses, etc.) who frequent taco trucks on their breaks. is starting a petition to save Sacramento’s taco trucks, although I couldn’t find a link to an actual petition (unless they’re just collecting them in their Web comments). They also articulate a lot of the other issues that have been brought up in this struggle.

Here’s an excerpt from the actual text of the ordinance:

5.68.170 Operation on the public right-of-way.
It is unlawful for any person to operate a food vending vehicle while stopped, standing or parked on the public right-of-way:

  • A. Between the hours of eight p.m. of one day and five a.m. of the following day during the months of April, May, June, July, August, September and October;
  • B. Between the hours of six p.m. of one day and five a.m. of the following day during the months of November, December, January, February and March.
  • C. For more than thirty (30) minutes in one location, without moving to a new location at least four hundred (400) feet away;
  • D. Within four hundred (400) feet of a location where the same food vending vehicle previously operated, on the same calendar day;
  • E. Within four hundred (400) feet of any other food vending vehicle; or
  • F. Within one hundred (100) feet of any street intersection controlled by a traffic light or stop sign.

If you’re interested, you can read the entire ordinance.

Mexican musings Southern California street food

L.A. Adds Taco Trucks to War against Street Food

Save the Taco TrucksPicture from

First, the bacon hot dog carts, and now taco trucks? What the hell is going on in L.A.?

Chowhound’s C. Thi Nguyen had an Op-Ed piece published in the L.A. Times a couple weeks ago detailing the new regulations passed by the L.A. County Board of Supervisors that would basically put taco trucks in unincorporated parts of L.A. County out of business.

From the article:

On Wednesday, the supervisors passed a harsh set of regulations for unincorporated county areas. Parking a taco truck in one spot for longer than an hour is now punishable by a fine of up to $1,000, or six months in jail, or both. Developers and restaurant owners, particularly in East L.A., are pushing for tougher enforcement too. These changes, say some truck owners, will probably put them out of business.

$1,000 or six months in jail? Not surprising when Downtown L.A. food cart owner Elizabeth Palacios spend 45 days in jail for selling a bacon hot dog.

Nguyen says:

This is a cultural disaster. Forget the Getty — it’s the taco trucks, and their crowds, that are the true culture of L.A. Attacking the trucks is like New York going after its hot dog stands or Memphis banning barbecue pits.

What’s the motivation for these new rules? Competition.

Ron Mukai, an East L.A. developer, says the trucks are unfair competition, edging out the “legitimate brick-and-mortar businesses.” But the county’s 14,000 registered catering trucks seem just as legitimate as restaurants — they’re just providing a different service. Restaurants provide meals, and a table to eat them at, and walls to eat them within. Taco trucks provide food, pure and simple. They charge less because they’re selling less.

If I’m looking for food on the run, I’m not looking for a sit-down restaurant. I want something good, fast, and cheap, and if that happens to be the neighborhood taco truck, I’ll be first in line. It’s a lot better option than fast food.

But class is also at the heart of this issue. Nguyen puts it best:

…these new regulations don’t just attack taco trucks, they hurt eaters, especially poor eaters. In a lot of places in town, it’s the only meal you can get for three or four bucks. And in some places, it’s a great meal for three or four bucks.

I’m not really sold on the effectiveness of online petitions, but if you want to sign one or are interested in more information about this fight, go to

Let this Cinco de Mayo be about FREEDOM!