Is There a New War on Food Trucks?

Chowhound rworange nailed it recently for a lot of people disillusioned with the nation's two-year-old food truck boom: "[W]hen the truck becomes the destination it loses its purpose." Ouch! The thrill is likewise gone for another Chowhound, pane, who imagined the whole point of trucks was to serve really great food more cheaply than a restaurant could. "I thought the purpose of the truck phenomenon was to keep overhead low, but that hasn't been passed along to customers."

Is the pendulum swinging against food trucks? Mounting evidence suggests that, while all but one or two U.S. cities have been skeptical about mobile vending (some have been flat-out hostile), broad new regulations are swirling that would make it even harder to operate a food truck.

Officials in New York City have a well-established history of kicking trucks out of metered parking spaces. But California's recently introduced AB 1678 would prohibit trucks from operating within 1,500 feet (about two city blocks) of any school. (That's even more restrictive than San Francisco's current ordinance, which forbids trucks on private property from parking within 1,500 feet of any middle or high school. Did we mention that San Francisco has 92 schools crowded into 49 square miles?)

Given the steep grade for trucks in these days of cranky foodies and hostile legislatures, maybe it's time to take it inside. With John T. Edge's eagerly awaited Truck Food Cookbook due out in May, spring might be the perfect time to try our hands at Cheezasaurus sandwiches and coconut chicken crêpes. At home.

Image source: Flickr member SusieFoodie under Creative Commons

Former CHOW contributor Joyce Slaton is an editor and writer in San Francisco. She takes her tea with sugar and milk and will sew you an apron if you ask nicely. Follow her on Twitter. Follow CHOW, too, and become a fan on Facebook.