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L.A. taco trucks can stay parked for business

A city of Los Angeles law that restricted how long mobile food vendors could stay in one place has been overturned by a court commissioner.

June 11, 2009|Phil Willon

A court commissioner has nixed a Los Angeles law that cracked down on how long taco trucks and other food coaches could stay open up for business.

The ordinance, approved by the City Council in 2006, forced operators to stay on the go: Trucks were prohibited from parking in the same spot in a residential neighborhood for more than half an hour or in a commercial area for more than an hour. A similar law adopted by the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors was tossed out by a judge last year.

L.A. County Superior Court Commissioner Barry D. Kohn ruled Friday that the city had overstepped its legal authority. Catering trucks are regulated by the state. Although local governments have the authority to impose additional regulations to protect public safety, Kohn found that the city ordinance was not based on safety.

"What happens is that these guys go and park near restaurants, and that hurts the restaurants' business," said Councilman Dennis Zine, who joined in the council's unanimous approval of the restrictions. "I think we're going to have to get together with the county to figure out what to do."

The legal challenge was filed by Francisco Gonzalez, who has operated a catering truck in East Los Angeles for more than a dozen years and specializes in carne asada. He received a $150 ticket in December for violating the ordinance, court records show.

Gonzalez was represented by a group of attorneys and students from UCLA Law School's clinical program.

Ingrid Eagly, who supervised the law students, said a group of eight students worked on the case, which initially was heard by an administrative judge at the city's Department of Transportation and then appealed to Superior Court. No attorney for the city appeared at Friday's hearing, she said.

Bruce Gillman, spokesman for the city Department of Transportation, said the agency was waiting for guidance from the city attorney to determine whether to suspend enforcement of the ordinance.

In August, a judge overturned a county ordinance that similarly made it a misdemeanor in unincorporated parts of the county to park a taco truck in one spot for more than an hour.

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phil.willon@latimes.com

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