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Popular food trucks put in drive

The popular lunch options are ordered to keep moving every 15 minutes in Burbank.

February 18, 2011|By Gretchen Meier

For some cooks in Burbank, fast food has meant the kitchen moves at least 1,000 feet every 15 minutes.

Burbank law requires food trucks to move to a new location at least 1,000 feet every quarter hour. After three hours, they can return to previous parking spots, but only after having made potential customers seek them out at 12 stops.

Gourmet food trucks — which have gained prominence with their sushi burritos, Korean barbecue, french fries and burgers made with grilled cheese sandwiches as buns and stacked with bacon, cheddar, pickles and beer soaked onions — have inundated special events and the hearts and stomachs of Southlanders in recent years. But they’ve been put on a legal exercise schedule of sorts in Burbank.


“Some are a bit more restrictive, and that presents more of a challenge, but that’s the cost of doing business,” said Michele Grant, chief executive for the Grilled Cheese Truck, which makes frequent stops in Burbank and holds permits to operate in about a dozen cities across Los Angeles County.

After the Southern California Mobile Food Vendors Assn. complained in writing that Burbank’s 15-minute rule was violating state law, the city stopped enforcement in October to draft a new set of rules that comply with the California Vehicle Code.

“Once the violation was brought to our attention, we stopped enforcing it,” said Burbank Assistant Community Development Terre Hirsch. “Our time and distance restriction was not for public safety, and we do not want to violate criminal or civil code.”

Ice cream trucks, for example, are not allowed to operate within a certain distance around schools out of concern for the traffic generated and the safety of the children. The vehicles, which feature such musical mainstays as “Pop Goes the Weasel,” are also barred from parking unless they are hailed down or have a line of customers.

Licensing rules for food trucks that operate within the city limits remain in effect while officials re-evaluate the 15-minute rule, Hirsch said.

Burbank also requires trucks to be compliance with Los Angeles County health codes, a restriction that was echoed countywide when the Department of Public Health kicked off a grading program for mobile food facilities at the start of the year.

Trucks must make sure they are within a certain distance of an acceptable bathroom if they are parked for a certain length of time and clean up any trash left by patrons.

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