New destinations eyed for San Francisco food trucks

Signs of San Francisco’s thriving mobile food businesses are evident all around town — except on the grounds of hospitals and colleges, where these vendors are banned.

But that could change.

Supervisor Scott Wiener introduced legislation Tuesday that would eliminate the planning code provision that prohibits mobile food vendors from operating at such institutions as San Francisco State University or Kaiser Permanente hospital.

“San Francisco values choice in food options, and this legislation will increase choices,” Wiener said. “Allowing institutions to provide their employees, students or patients with additional food options, including food trucks, is a good thing and should be encouraged. It makes no sense to ban these campuses from doing so.”

The mobile movement has taken off in cities around the country. Subs on the Hubs, Toasty Melts, Giant Burrito, La Falafel, Yummy Kabobs — these are just a few of the San Francisco mobile food vendors that have made lunchtime a lot more interesting.

The industry’s success prompted local regulation changes last year. In February 2011, The City began requiring mobile food businesses to obtain city permits and go through an appeal process if there were objections.

Brick-and-mortar businesses have been the most vocal opponents of the growing movement, as a mobile food vendor can take away customers. Some businesses want to see changes in the rules to protect their profits.

Wiener said he isn’t stopping at eliminating the college and hospital ban, which could give space to mobile vendors in areas where there are not so many brick-and-mortar businesses.

He also plans to overhaul the existing regulation system, which was adopted by the Board of Supervisors in December 2010.

Wiener has assembled a working group of property owners, businesses and mobile food vendors “to ensure that the system encourages food diversity and the food truck movement while also treating both brick-and-mortar businesses and food truck operators fairly.”

He said he plans to introduce a proposal in the “near future.”

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