Food Trucks And Juice
Ruby's Cafe on Hollis Street serves several different kinds of juice. Ruby's owner, Albert Repola knows a lot about juice, and he's using it right now at City Hall, trying to oust food trucks that he sees as rapacious competitors. Mr. Repola has been very vocal in this view, repeatedly demanding action from City Hall. Officials, who seldom act in the benefit of small businesses, suddenly appear unusually responsive, vowing to add further regulations to the city's Food Vendor Ordinance.
At a time when the popularity of food trucks, especially those serving more upscale cuisine is growing exponentially in the Bay Area, Emeryville it seems, is destined to go the other way. And it's all because certain small business owners that, with justification, feel they have special access to City Hall and want to shut down the competition.
This is not hyperbole. Limiting competition is among the seven objectives of Emeryville's newest government entity: a 'Food Vendor Task Force" according to a story concerning the formulation of the body in last week's e-newsletter from City Hall. The story examines how the new 'food vendor task force' will investigate making the ordinance more rigorous. In addition to "limiting competition", the items being considered include:
- Limiting the geographic area that mobile food vendors may operate
- Limiting the number of mobile food vendors
- Raising permit fees
- Regulating mobile food vendors on private property
- Use of public right of way for cooking, seating and/or storage
- Developing remedies for non-compliance with the ordinance
This list clearly shows who's got the juice in this town. It's very telling that none of the bullet points from the city are in support of food trucks and it's very clear that residents that happen to like food trucks are not going to be listened to.
We are chagrined that the bullet point list makes it obvious that City Hall is LOADING THE DECK and
not interested in presenting unbiased finding of fact for this task force. At the Tattler, we have to ask why? Could it possibly be political patronage at work? After all, Mr. Repola has been very generous in his support of the Council majority over the years.
Nevertheless, times are tough, and everyone is looking for a scapegoat. If Mr. Repola's business isn't quite as prosperous as it once was, perhaps it is the result of the unemployment or foreclosure rate, rather than from "competition" that cannot offer shelter from the weather or the amenities of a restaurant.
Unlike some restaurant owners, the food truck vendors have not paid money to the re-election campaigns of the Council majority. Maybe they think they'll get a fair shake at City Hall regardless. Obviously, these vendors are new to town; they may know about food but they're obviously selling the wrong kind of juice in Emeryville.