DEL MAR — Food trucks that began setting up in the parking lot across from Powerhouse Community Center on Oct. 10 will be able to continue, but the Wednesday night gatherings will not be allowed to expand until council members have a chance to address concerns expressed by residents and business owners and analyze the benefits and impacts.
At the Oct. 22 meeting, council members directed staff to bring back a moratorium on the trucks at their next meeting on Nov. 19.
Councilman Terry Sinnott said he didn’t want to start regulating the businesses until he had a complete picture of the pros and cons.
We need to take time to get a complete picture of how this service impacts our community, he said.
The Finance Department issued business licenses to the six participating trucks prior to the first event, planning Director Kathy Garcia said.
The Seagrove parking lot at 1601 Coast Boulevard, where the gathering takes place, is zoned beach commercial, which allows parking, restaurants and outdoor cafes and any similar enterprise or business.
The applicants demonstrated they had adequate parking and that it was primarily for to-go food so tables were not being needed.
Because the trucks aren’t permanent, design review was not required, a concern expressed by some residents and business owners, Garcia said.
Truck owners said they only expected to have 15 to 25 people onsite at any one time, which exempted them from the city’s large assemblage requirements. Garcia said so far, the number of customers is “in the same ballpark.”
The city is receiving business license fees, sales tax and a portion of the operating revenue under a lease agreement with Seagrove Parking LLC.
Garcia said the group plans to continue operating at the north end of the parking lot on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. and would like to increase to 10 vendors.
Community concerns included competition with the city’s established restaurants, noise, smells and restroom availability, she said.
Garcia said employees are allowed to use a restroom at the parking lot kiosk and customers use the facilities at Powerhouse Community Center.
There was no public notice on the matter because that isn’t a requirement for business licenses, Garcia said.
Signage violations were addressed, she said.
The trucks are regulated by the San Diego Department of Environmental Health, which notified Del Mar its code is adequate to host the business.
Christian Murcia, who organized the gathering, said he was approached by officials from Seagrove Parking to create business in the underutilized lot during the offseason.
“These are small business owners that are creating fresh, gourmet food, locally farmed,” Murcia said. “This isn’t your typical roach coach.”
Murcia’s truck, Crepes Bonaparte, was featured on the Food Network and Giada De Laurentiis used one of his recipes on her show, “Giada at Home.”
“We need to fill in some of the gaps,” said Councilman Don Mosier, who had concerns with recycling, safety, lighting and no public restrooms after the ones at the Powerhouse close at 7 p.m.
If these food trucks are going to become a permanent fixture in the city I think we need to explore options for synergy between them and other businesses,” Mosier said. “They need to be integrated into business-promoting organizations like the (Del Mar Village Association). They need to be part of the fabric of our community if they are going to be coming here once a week.”
Last month Encinitas shut down a Friday food truck gathering hosted by a private business and required the property owners to obtain a minor-use permit, which can take six months and $1,600 to secure.