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Berkeley J-School Covers The Taco Troubles

October 13, 2008

Our friends across the Bay at the Berkeley School of Journalism have created missionlocal.org, a “hyper-local” website covering, you guessed, the Mission. It was started by Lydia Chávez, a prof who lives in the Mission.

I already like these folks. Any website about the Mission is already a good website. Even better when “Taco Troubles” is one of their headline articles.

Now what possible trouble could there be with tacos in the Mission? (This is certainly a problem, but arguably it is in Duboce Triangle. It is still wrong, even more so that I willingly ate at the chain as a child.)

No, our friends at the Berkeley J-school picked up on Los Troubles del Tonayense. Hélène Goupil clearly wore out some shoe leather as she got some great quotes from the protaganists, Benjamin Santana, the owner of the truck, versus Dana Woldow, co-chair of our favorite group, “The Student Nutrition and Physical Activity Committee”:


    On a recent Wednesday, no students stopped to buy tacos, but Woldow said she had seen students buying food at the truck, and passing food to students through the fence.

    “If they don’t sell to kids then why are they so insistent on staying in that location?” Woldow asked.

    That day, Santana received a letter from the police telling him he has to leave. He now plans on appealing and is hopeful about the outcome. The police, he said, have been very nice to him. “They showed up here and gave me a letter from another case in Twin Peaks. They appealed it and they won,” he said.

Good to know it is being appealed, and glad to see the cops being cool about it. Do these things get public hearings? And could you actually pass a taco through a chain link fence? (*Would* any taco eater risk such a manoeuver given the risk of destabilizing the structural integrity of a taco?)

More importantly, I bet Ms. Waldow doesn’t realize there’s a fenced-off garden between the soccer field and the fence.

Quotes from Reasonable People:

  • John O’ Connell High School’s principal, Janet Schulze, said she is supportive of the nutrition committee, but added, “The taco truck is so a non-issue for us. It doesn’t take business from the cafeteria.”
  • When asked if he thinks El Tonayense means less money for the school cafeteria, Wilinski (a customer) laughed and took another big bite out of his burrito.”… “It’s not like they’re drug dealers,” he said.

Best of all? The Committee doesn’t go after the ice cream trucks that park in front of elementary schools:


    Just a few blocks away, right next to another El Tonayense truck owned by Santana’s brother, Esquivel Santana, students from George R. Moscone Elementary School ran out to meet their parents. Ice cream sellers rang their bells tempting children with sweet snacks. The ordinance doesn’t include such vendors.

    “That’s a separate battle someone else will have to fight,” Woldow said.

Maybe Santana can buy a bell and fool the the Committee for Student Nutrition and Hypocritical Activity.

Burrito Justice’s Binding Verdict: Repeal the ordinance.

Sadly, Burrito Justice’s jurisdiction decreases at the inverse square of distance. But Santana and his El Tonayense truck of happiness should get grandfathered if this silly ordinance can’t get repealed. Hell, he can promise not to sell to minors and “The Committee” can spend its time posting guards outside El Faro.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Ben Hubbard permalink
    October 16, 2008 10:22 pm

    Let the truck stay. I had friends who ate apples pies and slushies for lunch everyday in high school and still managed to run varsity cross country.

    Carne Asada is not a crime!

    Though perhaps he can come up with a few lard-free selections for the health-conscious.

  2. October 16, 2008 11:36 pm

    El Tonayense really isn’t greasy, at least compared to your typical truck — really more grilled.

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  1. El Tonayense Strikes Back! « Burrito Justice

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