Taco Trucks vs. The Restaurant Cartel in Salinas, CA
In Salinas, CA, a farm town 120 miles south of San Francisco, there are 33 approved food trucks and 240 mobile vendors, which include ice cream push carts (paleteros), flower vendors and other street sellers.
Taco trucks, like the one pictured above in Salinas, are cultural icons and social magnets in Mexico, and provide good, cheap food (see the $1.25 taco above), as well as good jobs for entrepreneurs.
But the taco trucks have become a flashpoint in at least a dozen cities in California — including Santa Rosa, 55 miles north of San Francisco, and Gardena, 15 miles south of Los Angeles — and in other states, like Arizona, Oregon and Tennessee, according to today's NY Times article, "Proposed Ban on Taco Trucks Stirs Animosity in a California Town."
For example, a proposed ordinance in Salinas would phase out mobile and stationary catering vehicles, most of which are taco trucks, by 2011, and would restrict how, when and where 240 pushcart vendors could sell cold prepared foods.
Who's behind the ordinance? Well, it's not too hard to figure that out, it's the "Salinas United Business Association," complaining that the taco trucks have "an unfair competitive advantage."
Translation: the taco trucks have better food at lower prices.
The NY Times quotes a blogger on Chowhound.com (website "for those who live to eat") who said, "It really comes down to competition. Why should one class of merchant roll over for another class of merchant?”
Amen. I'd love to live in a city with 33 food trucks competing for my business, and be able to buy tacos for $1.25 like in the picture.
(551 Students: We'll cover this topic of "barriers to entry" at the next residency.)
See a related CD post on the "taxi cartel in Minneapolis."