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Food Trucks: Bother or Boon?

Vendors who cruise the streets are a godsend, say shoppers. Others call them an unsightly nuisance. Santa Ana has plans for changes.

September 25, 2005|Jennifer Delson | Times Staff Writer

On Townsend Street, residents don't understand why city officials are wasting time talking about vendors when the city faces such problems as gangs, vandalism, and street repair. Many are Guatemalan immigrants who work at low-paying jobs. Their rents range from $750 to $1,100 a month, and they often get by on one salary so the mother can take care of the children.

David Soriano has parked his food truck on this street for 11 years and knows all of the children and parents. When they can't make ends meet, he lends them money to buy tortillas. He also sells tomatoes, potatoes, potato chips, candy and laundry detergent.

"These people are like family," said Soriano. "It's absurd to think that we are a bother to them."

Griselda Roman, 29, a mother of two, said she considers the three vendors on the streets friends. One even comes over for dinner.

"Why would these vendors bother us? On the contrary, they are helping us," said Roman, who bought a $1 bottle of Downey on a recent weekday. "We can only go to the supermarket every two weeks. We run out of something and they are here to sell it to us."

Convenience

The closest supermarket is nearly a mile away. Some local supermarkets do offer transportation home for customers, but the trip seems hardly worth it for odd items, residents say.

Besides, the vendors' prices are often lower, and parents feel comfortable sending their children to buy items. Remedios Arias, 32, sent her 11-year-old son to buy 10 eggs for $1 on a recent morning.

"I realized we had nothing to eat for lunch," said Arias, who planned to serve herself, three children and her husband fried eggs. "We're lucky to have these trucks here. How would we make do without them?"

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