This guest post was written by Karen Hester, an events producer who lives in Temescal Creek Cohousing and often cooks dinner for her community of 25 folks. You can subscribe to her event listings by signing up on her website. She is a board member of Destiny Arts Center, a bike enthusiast and loves to eat almost any street food, including fried crickets in Cambodia.
In the scheme of things, I’m a relative newcomer to the food fights in the mobile food landscape. City staff and some local food truck operators have been pushing for a new kinder, gentler mobile food policy for almost 2 1/2 years.
Last spring Ed Manase and staff from Planning got push back from the City committee called Committee for Community Economic Development to reach out more to stakeholders and naysayers. He had tried to push through a comprehensive policy for the whole city, which makes sense, except in Oakland since Desley Brooks and Larry Reid don’t want mobile food in their districts. Which is a shame as the poorest parts of Oakland are the ones that perhaps stand to benefit the most as food trucks are a great incubator for food entrepreneurs who can develop a loyal clientele without investing in a brick and mortar restaurant. I predict that whoever replaces Larry Reid next November will realize the lost opportunity and get onboard.
So now while Ed Manase and staff work on a comprehensive policy to hopefully be adopted by the Council by March, Councilmembers Kaplan and Brunner have worked with some of us in the community to put forward an interim food pod policy that will be good until January 2013.
A group of us that included Shelly Garza from Rising Sun Enterprises, Zak Zimmerman from Doc’s of the Bay, Matt Cohen from Off the Grid, Jenya from Vesta Flatbreads and Gail from Liba met with City staff and worked out the wording that I think is workable. Pod organizers can hold no more than 2 group sites at any one time and the cost of each site will be around $620 plus additional permit costs if the pod is in the public right of way (partially closing down a street). Food pods must be located 100 feet away from brick and mortar restaurants unless written consent from the restaurant is obtained.
I’m excited about the possibility of 5-8 new pods in Oakland throughout the City in 2013. I plan to apply for continuing the pod called Bites Off Broadway in front of Studio One on Friday nights plus a new one in the Uptown at Snow Park on Tuesday or Thursday evenings from mid May-mid October. I hope someone else will also apply for a lunchtime pod at Snow Park as having a day and nighttime presence will help all our efforts. I think another prime location could be the pocket park and soon to be constructed sculpture garden at 19th and Telegraph near the Fox Theater. Oakland County workers would like more food choices near their building as well. As a long term solution, I would love to see a mobile fleet selling healthy affordable food outside Oakland Tech where I watch lots of kids waddle over to fast food restaurants everyday.
San Francisco and Emeryville have been way ahead of Oakland in terms of embracing the employment, culture and money to the City that food trucks can provide. But now we have a chance to make up for lost time. After being in the middle of the mobile food fights with police even closing down Bites Off Broadway one night, I’m ready to get legit.
Chow Down in Downtown: Show Up, Eat Up, Speak Out
An interim mobile food pod policy comes before the Oakland City Council on this Tuesday, Dec 6th, at 7pm at City Hall in the Council Chambers on the 2nd Floor. We need your help in the following ways:
- Come and have lunch at our media event, Tues, Dec 6th 11:30-2pm at Frank Ogawa Plaza. Breads of India, El Tacobike and Doc’s of the Bay will be serving up the gourmet offerings.
- Show up and speak out for the interim policy by filling out a speaker card in advance. Title of legislation. Sign up to speak and reference agenda item 9.7
- Email or call your council members from and let them know you support the interim policy for pods like Bites Off Broadway and more throughout Oakland. Here is the contact info for the Council:
Rebecca Kaplan, At-Large
RKaplan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7008
Council President Jane Brunner, District 1
JBrunner@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7001
Patricia Kernighan, District 2
PKernighan@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7002
Nancy Nadel, District 3
NNadel@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7003
Libby Schaaf, District 4
LSchaaf@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7004
Ignacio De La Fuente, District 5
IDeLaFuente@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7005
Desley Brooks, District 6
DBrooks@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7006
Larry Reid, District 7
LReid@oaklandnet.com or 510-238-7007