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News, City Council, Main Street, Santa Monica, Police Department, Food Trucks

Late Night Food Trucks, Pedicabs, Parking On Santa Monica Council Agenda

Posted Apr. 8, 2013, 9:25 am

Parimal M. Rohit / Staff Writer

Late night eats and regulating pedicabs on Santa Monica Beach are on the City Council’s radar next week, as Council members convene Tuesday for the first time in three weeks. The council will also consider a resolution to make rates for parking structures in  downtown more affordable for disabled residents living in nearby affordable housing units.

At the request of Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, the council will consider a proposed ordinance to expand the prohibition of limiting late night street vending on Main Street.

“In recent years, commercial vending activities from vehicles, particularly food trucks, have grown exponentially within the City,” a City staff report stated. “The impact of this increase in vending activities has been most acute on Main Street during late night hours, when food trucks operating near alcohol serving establishments attract large crowds of persons.”

The report stated that large crowds created extreme congestion of the narrow sidewalks along Main Street, forced pedestrians onto the road, and posed significant safety hazards to the public.

The council addressed SMPD’s concerns about the safety hazards posed by the crowding at and near food trucks by adopting a “narrow ordinance” in November 2011. That ordinance prohibited food trucks from operating along Main Street between Ocean Park Boulevard and Marine Street between 1 am and 3 am on Saturdays and Sundays.

According to the SMPD, the previously approved ordinance was an effective tool in protecting public safety along Main Street.

“However, the same safety concerns that precipitated [the ordinance] remain apparent during certain holidays popularly associated with alcohol consumption that may fall on a week day,” the City staff report stated.

Hence, SMPD requests the council to expand the ordinance prohibiting food trucks along Main Street to include the area south of Marine Street to the City’s southernmost border where Santa Monica meets Venice.

Since certain popular holidays that are associated with alcoholic consumption do not occur on a Saturday or Sunday, the proposed ordinance would also expand the prohibition to include Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, and New Year’s Day in the event any of those days landed on a weekday.

According to City staff, 213 food trucks are licensed to operate within Santa Monica.

The dais will also consider an ordinance regulating the use of pedicabs, or a bicycle taxi. Specifically, the ordinance, if approved, would prohibit pedicabs from operating on the Beach Bike Path. Further, pedicabs would be required to have a business license, similar to taxicabs.

“The proposed regulations would require pedicab companies to obtain an operating permit and pedicab vehicle permits to ensure that minimum equipment and signage standards are met,” City staff stated in a report. “Pedicab drivers would also be required to obtain permits to ensure qualifications were met.”

The proposed ordinance also subjects pedicabs to honoring the “rules of the road.”

According to City staff, pedicabs are already prohibited from operating on the Pier or the Third Street Promenade.

“Pedicab rules and regulations would be enforced by Code Enforcement staff and ‘rules of the road’ would be enforced by Police Department staff,” City staff stated. “Pedicabs … cannot impede the flow of traffic or use transit lanes.”

If passed, pedicab operators would be required to pay certain fees. For example, operators would have to pay $195 for new or renewed permits, while a new pedicab vehicle decal would cost $112. Pedicab drivers would be required to pay $95 for new or renewed permits.

Also on the April 9 agenda: City staff proposes an ordinance that would lower monthly parking rates for downtown residents who are disabled.

“[City] staff is proposing to charge the lowest rate generally available to Downtown residents, currently $65 per month, to persons with disabled placards that reside in buildings with no onsite parking within the Downtown core,” the City staff report to council members stated.

Currently, downtown residents, including those who are disabled and have a placard, have three options for monthly parking: on-site parking provided by building owner; parking in City-owned downtown parking structures for $160 per month; or, parking at the Civic Center for $65 per month.

The April 9 agenda also includes a council member discussion item seeking to authorize City staff to “to explore options for creating a ‘high affordability housing’ requirement as part of the [Bergamot Area] Plan.”

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Apr. 10, 2013, 7:49:41 am

Bruce Dworkin said...

The SMPD report betrays an inappropriate disdain (popular, I think) for the consumption of alcohol, as does this article in reporting on it. For one thing, it ignores how their attraction of large crowds suggests that there was an unmet demand, newly served by the food truck boom. It ought not be automatically troublesome to find large crowds gather outside licensed establishments found in number on such as Main Street between 1 and 3 am on Saturday night and other peak alcohol consumption times. The SMPD and the Mirror ought not frown upon those who participate, especially at such times. They ought not make disingenuous claims such as that "significant safety hazards" are posed to a dubious set of late weekend tea-totaling pedestrians, moved by some dubious force into dubiously dangerous traffic, without even contemplating the effects of fuller stomachs and delayed trips from last call to driver's seats. Just because something is popular doesn't mean it should be banned. The likelihood that some of our neighbors will stumble out of a bar at closing time and end up loud and obnoxious while in line for a sandwich at a food truck for a few more minutes than otherwise is NOT a compelling reason to FIRST AND ONLY think, BAN THE TRUCKS! To be honest, from 1 - 3 am on Saturday night/Sunday mornings and on holidays like St. Patrick's day, from areas as dense with bars as Main Street, can't we BAN THE PEDESTRIANS? How about every other Saturday?? For Pete's sake, do we have to keep pressing and pressing toward some Stepfordian utopia for families and hateful oppressiveness for those of us who just need a drink?

Apr. 13, 2013, 2:32:44 pm

Bruce Dworkin said...

Do we ban EVERYTHING that attracts large crowds, or just the ones that are associated with vices? Do we just hate supply meeting demand? I call b.s. on the SMPD conclusion that crowds in line at or eating near a food truck is a "significant safety hazard," both in the absolute and relative to having them jump right into their cars. PLEASE don't protect ME from the hazards of negotiating a crowded sidewalk during my 2 a.m. Saturday night constitutionals. If I have to step onto the road, I promise to look both ways. If I'm driving, I'm almost SURE I'll notice any large crowds gathered around a well-lit truck at such times, and slow down to carefully pass by. Good for you, Mayor Pro Tem, to oppose such discriminatory, disingenuous, elitist, tea-totaling nonsense. Ironic that those who drive others to drink in the first place, at just those very few hours to which they've already restricted such respites, would then so drive drinkers straight into their driver's seats and away from the healthy commerce

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