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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Objections to Doc's of the Bay Just the Start of Pushback Against Food Trucks

Posted By on Wed, Apr 27, 2011 at 8:18 AM

click to enlarge Doc's of the Bay rolled up for lunch in Emeryville Tuesday. Will it get the chance to do the same in S.F.? - JOHN BIRDSALL
  • John Birdsall
  • Doc's of the Bay rolled up for lunch in Emeryville Tuesday. Will it get the chance to do the same in S.F.?

Last week, Haighteration blog's Andrew Dudley opened the window onto a brewing battle mounted by some Divis neighbors to keep startup burger truck Doc's of the Bay from obtaining a permit to roll up to Divisadero and Page. Brace yourself for more: New mobile vending rules the city adopted late last year included a stringent notification law, requiring the Department of Public Works to notify all businesses near a site of a vendor's intentions to do business there. Even one objection triggers a mandatory hearing before a city planner, with a single official ultimately making the call about whether a food truck represents unfair competition to nearby brick-and-mortars.

In other words, if you liked the JapaCurry drama earlier this year, you'll love what should prove to be dozens of heated campaigns against food trucks playing out against NIMBY forces in neighborhoods all over the city. The new rules were widely lauded ― SFoodie included ― as an expansion of street food in San Francisco. Now it's looking like the new ordinance (which had the blessing of high-profile food-truck foe the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, a restaurant owners' group) merely raises the bar for would-be vendors seeking spots on the street.

In early March, Doc's owner Zak Silverman was among the dozens of operators camping out for an early crack at filing permit applications under the city's new mobile vending rules. Silverman ended up applying for seven locations for his burger and American comfort food truck: four spots in the Financial District, two in the Mission, and the one in the 300 block of Divisadero. "Unless we're really lucky, it looks like we'll get objections to all of them," he tells SFoodie.

And what about Doc's chances for prevailing on Divis? Silverman's not sure. "The Department of Public Works is a black box," he says. "We don't know if the city planner is going to be lenient or sympathetic to the food trucks or anti-food trucks. It seems to me that after all of this any judge is gonna be at least a little sympathetic to the trucks, but we don't know. We're going to come in to our hearing well-worded and make the best case we can."

No date has been set for any of the hearings. The deadline for logging objections to Doc's of the Bay's permit application for Divis is May 6. Meanwhile, Haighteration is urging readers to register support for the food truck with the Department of Public Works.

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