Palm Desert sets new restrictive rules for food trucks

Palm Desert sets strict rules for food truck operators

PALM DESERT, Calif. - Food trucks will be able to operate in the Valley legally come April, and now Palm Desert has set some new rules as to when and where they can operate. However, some worry the rules are too to restrictive and basically is closing Palm Desert to the up and coming industry.

"What we wanted to do was lead, not follow," said Palm Desert Mayor Van Tanner. 

Palm Desert became the first city in the Coachella Valley to outline rules for food trucks to operate.

"We've had an ordinance in place for a long time that governs and restricts where food trucks can go, we are releasing some of those restrictions and being more permissive," said Palm Desert director of community development Lauri Aylaian.

The trucks now would be allowed to operate on Sundays but only from 9 am to 5pm during the winter, and 9am to 7pm during the summer. 

Also they are not allowed to park within 750 feet of bars or restaurants or 1500 feet from a grade school.  That eliminates all of El Paseo and Highway 111 within city limits.   

The south side of Civic Center park is one of the few places where few food trucks can set up, as are residential areas as long as the street's speed limit is less than 35 mph.

Food trucks also can get a special permit for special events or parties.  For a full list of rules click here.

Mayor Tanner says the rules will protect the city's existing businesses 

"We don't want to take the ability to make money away from them because they are entrepreneurs, but at the same time we want to protect what we currently have here in the Coachella Valley," said Tanner. 

People who want to operate food trucks say that's exactly what it does, keeps them from making money.

"They have to work with us, it's going to be difficult.  It is going to be difficult to make the revenue that you need to make the food truck operate in a small community that we have," said restaurant owner Tony Riccio. 

Riccio wants a food truck to help drive business to his Palm Desert restaurant La Bella Cucina, but with these new rules, he would not be allowed to park it even in his own parking lot. 

"I would like them to be reasonable with this and try to work together with everybody in each city to figure out a great spot," said Riccio.

Mayor Tanner says if it were up to him, there would be no food trucks in Palm Desert. 

"To be honest with you that is not my want, by there are others on the Council that think there are a place for them," said Tanner.

Riccio hopes they do find a place and soon.

"The food trucks are not going to hurt anybody, as long as you are giving a quality product that is what people are looking for," said Riccio, 

The new rules take affect next month.

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