Monday, May 05, 2008

Taco Truck Battle Heats Up in Los Angeles




Pulitzer-prize winning restaurant critic Jonathan Gold gets paid to eat wherever he wants. And yet, several times a week he chooses to pull over to the side of the road and eat food served on a paper plate — out of a truck.

"I've probably been to 3,000 trucks in my life," says Gold, who writes for the alternative newspaper LA Weekly. "It's a hobby, you might say." Many Angelenos share Gold's love of the quick and inexpensive meals, with blogs and online maps dedicated to the quest for the perfect taco.

Not everyone is so enamored, however.
Los Angeles County officials recently passed a law that makes it a misdemeanor to park a taco truck in the same place for more than an hour. Violators face fines of up to $1,000 or six months in jail.

Who would object to cheap street tacos? Certainly not consumers, they love the taco trucks, and LA food critic Gold describes a great street taco as "happiness translated into the language of warm tortillas, finely chopped onion and a hot sauce that brings you to your knees." It's probably obvious, but find out here who doesn't like taco trucks and would love to put them all out of business.

Watch a slideshow on LA taco trucks here.

10 Comments:

At 5/05/2008 8:25 AM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

LOL, "unfair competition". If I could do one thing in this world, I would get rid of that term. In fact, I would get rid of the word "fair" period.

It reminds of one of Milton Friedman's favorite quotes and I am paraphrasing:

"The word free appears in the US Consitution numerous times, the word fair does not appear once."

 
At 5/05/2008 8:31 AM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

However, this is a good example that labor groups and other socialist groups are not the only types who try to hamstring businesses with regulations.

Other businesses are just as willing to use ties with the government to put regulations on businesses as evidenced by this example. Another example is Boeing complaining to the government about unfair competition from Northrup Grumman.

 
At 5/05/2008 8:41 AM, Anonymous pepe said...

Well, the trucks do not have to pay property tax. This gives them an advantage.

I mean, a restaurant owner has to buy the land and pay taxes on it whilst the truck gets to use the street for free...the truck is subsidized by the government land.

Now, if you want to argue for privatizing the streets then I am all ears.

 
At 5/05/2008 8:42 AM, Blogger juandos said...

Ahhh mach999, two excellent comments...

I think also one has to consider what probably appears to be a moving target to business people in general in L.A.,: what's the law say today?...

"Los Angeles County officials recently passed a law that makes it a misdemeanor to park a taco truck in the same place for more than an hour. Violators face fines of up to $1,000 or six months in jail

If L.A. politicos pander to certain blocks of supporters is it any wonder that are problems...

 
At 5/05/2008 9:06 AM, Blogger jmaize said...

Having eaten at a few of these trucks while in Los Angelos, I must say the food was excellent. They saved me time (and gas expense) instead of having to find a restaurant.

 
At 5/05/2008 9:27 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

on Pepe's Comment about the taxes....you are right. But, nothing is stopping the restaurant owner from selling his building and buying a truck. The restaurant owner should not use the government to do away his competition.

 
At 5/05/2008 11:42 AM, Blogger randian said...

When I lived in San Jose I used to frequent the taco trucks. Yummy! Thankfully they haven't yet gotten the idea to get rid of them.

 
At 5/05/2008 1:44 PM, Anonymous alex said...

Also in reply to pepe's comment, here is where your property tax argument falls apart: what about a resturaunt owner who leases his or her building space? They don't directly pay property taxes either. Are they at an "advantage" over resturaunt owners who own their building space and directly pay their own property taxes?

Further, what about the personal property taxes that the taco truck owner has to pay the state and the city for his truck? Is the resturaunt owner at an "advantage" because they can avoid those?

Finally, given that most of the taco truck owners have to pay rent to the owner of the space in which they park, who then pay the taxes on the property...I don't think they are avoiding such taxes any more than the resturaunt owner who leases his or her space.

 
At 5/05/2008 3:01 PM, Blogger juandos said...

alex says: "Further, what about the personal property taxes that the taco truck owner has to pay the state and the city for his truck?"...

California has a year to year personal property tax on vehicles too? I live in Missouri and they have it...

pepe says: "the truck is subsidized by the government land"...

Actually according to the Tax Foundation the truck owner has his/her own problems with taxes: California's statewide gasoline tax stands at 45.5 cents per gallon and is the highest in the nation...

 
At 5/05/2008 3:15 PM, Anonymous Machiavelli999 said...

Some people in this thread have tried to defend the Taco trucks by claiming that they are "Yummy!"

But I think it is important to emphasize that it does not matter if these are the worst tacos in the world and if they were being sold for $100/taco. The people who are selling the tacos have a RIGHT to sell them. They are not forcing you to buy the tacos. They are not forcing you to do anything.

On the other hand, LA is forcing them to give up their business. And if they refuse, LA will come with a gun, stick it in their face and tell them to give up their business.

This touches on a bigger issue. Lot of people argue about the merits and consequences of outsourcing. However, that is not what matters. If I have a factory, it is MY factory. And if I want to move it to China, India or the Moon, I should be able to because its mine!

 

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