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No Street Food For You. Or You. Or you or you or yoo-oh.

April 6, 2009

Behold, a map of the Mission.  But what could the red circles represent? Outbreak of a horrible disease?  Soviet Air Force bomber targets? Girafa sightings?


Alas, no. The red circles show a 1500′ radius around public junior high and high schools — the land where food trucks are forbidden. Click to zoom. (Hoping for an interactive map soon — am I missing something, or is it obscenely difficult to draw circles in Google Earth?)

UPDATE: Board of sups food truck ban does not apply to elementary schools.  (That explains the ice cream trucks.)

UPDATED UPDATE: Reader emamd points out that the 1500′ limit is around the school property line, not the entrance, so you’d get a map something like the even wider doughnuts above vs circles around the entrance.

UPDATE++: The old St. James (25th & Florida), now the California School Age Families Education (Cal-SAFE) county high school is in question – that’s the blue circle.

For those late to this party, our Board of Supervisors passed a law banning food trucks from within 1500 feet of a school as part of the SFUSD “Wellness” policy.  However, there is no distinction made between predatory trucks that target children and ‘gourmet’ trucks that cater to consenting adults.

This law is draconian and needs to be changed. 1500′ means no food truck can legally operate in Dolores Park. And for some perspective, pot clubs only have to be 500 to 1000 feet away from a school.

I have little sympathy for the school board nutritionistas’ argument that responsible taco trucks like El Tonayense set children into some sort of downward food spiral — especially when they don’t eat at the truck but instead go to the restaurants next to the school.  The point is not that I have to go an extra two blocks to get a taco from El Tonayense, it’s that food trucks have been banned in half the damn city.  This law, no matter how well intentioned, goes too far.

For the record, I do not condone food trucks gathering around school entrances selling kids chips and soda. I think we can all agree that this is bad. But to dive into hyperbole and paint *all* food trucks with that same brush is intellectually dishonest. Oh great legal minds of the city, how do we get the Sups to pass a more reasonable law?  500 feet and show ID during the school day?  Express your vote over at Mission Loc@l (middle right of the page).

This SF Weekly article asks why we don’t have more food trucks in this of all cities. This law is certainly part of the problem. In New York they practically throw street food at you as you walk by, and in LA there are revolutionary food delivery mechanisms such as a korean taco truck that twitters its location each night. (Take that, line!) Imagine singapore noodle carts, oh, would that not be lovely?

Instead we have guerilla food trucks, or legal trucks cordoned into food ghettos.  (That being said, the future site of Valencia Street Park is in a safe zone. We welcome you, foodie truck entrepreneurs!)

47 Comments leave one →
  1. April 6, 2009 1:13 am

    I’m with you on the foolishness of the ordinance. And I totally agree with the suggestions of changing the exclusion distance and limiting the ban to kids.

    But you’re map… I’m pretty sure (certain) that the ordinance only applies to middle schools and high schools. The Tonayense truck that sits outside of Moscone ES — just 3 blocks from the one behind O’Connell — is not at risk and is not in violation of the ordinance. (Unlike the pot club exclusion zones that definitely included all schools.)

  2. April 6, 2009 2:50 am

    IANAL, but I believe that other Tonayense truck may have some sort of exemption since it’s outside the restaurant.

    There are two different California Regulations covering food in elementary vs jr high/high Schools (codes 15500, vs 15501). But it’s not clear to me if the city ordinance makes that distinction:

    Schools shall not invite outside vendors, such as catering trucks or ice cream carts, to sell any kind of food or drinks to students within 1500 feet of the perimeter of the school. Principals will notify the offices of their supervisors (e.g., School Operations and Instructional Support), who will in turn take steps to remove such vendors who show up uninvited, including contacting the local police station to ask that the approved route for the catering truck not be within 1500 feet of the perimeter of the school.

    Click to access SFUSDWellness.pdf

    If it is the case re elementary schools, I’ll definitely change the map. But if so, it would be even more hypocritical given elementary school kids are the ones most likely to need protection.

  3. Janet C permalink
    April 6, 2009 9:58 am

    Elementary school are exempt prolly because the children are not allowed off school grounds for lunch.

  4. 18th at Harrison permalink
    April 6, 2009 11:43 am

    I have a thought — why not reverse the rule to this: No schools allowed within 1500 feet of a Taco Truck. That would suit me just fine.

  5. April 6, 2009 12:15 pm

    My info is not based on reading the ordinance. I’m actually a friend of Dana’s (one of the prime forces behind all this) and it came up in our conversations about this. As Janet notes, ES students are not allowed off-campus, so they do not need additional protection.

    I will also point out that this ban has been working at other sites. I think it was Washington HS that saw a substantial increase in meals sold after the roach coaches were banned — amd increaed sales means they can afford other food service improvements. So there is some merit to the ordinance. I just think that this Tonayense case is an exception that clearly demonstrates the need to refine the law and improve it to be more selective.

  6. April 6, 2009 1:47 pm

    I agree there is merit to the ordinance, and I agree to it in principle. I don’t agree with Dana and Carloline’s dogmatic, absolutist approach.

    I think if the backers of the Wellness policy took a more reasonable line that included either a clearly defined and reasonable appeal process or an exemption policy, they wouldn’t be facing the wrath of enraged foodies that could endanger the very programs they are trying to protect and grow.

  7. April 6, 2009 2:33 pm

    I can confirm that elementary schools are exempt. Here’s a link to the text of the resolution, passed March 20th, 2008:

    Click to access o0068-07.pdf

  8. April 6, 2009 4:10 pm

    Thanks for the link — I will update the map tonight.

    I guess we now know why ice cream trucks swarm elementary schools.

  9. April 6, 2009 11:58 pm

    wow that’s about a 2.5 block radius!

    I also assume these circles only get bigger if the law is considered as 1500ft from the school grounds, as opposed to the center of the campus or the front entrance.

  10. April 7, 2009 12:51 am

    Indeed. It looks like the ordinance defines it as from the property line, regardless the physics surrounding 3″ burritos and 1″ fence holes.

    So you’d get a doughnut of sorts. I just uploaded another quick and dirty map at the end of the article.

  11. MSM permalink
    April 7, 2009 3:52 pm

    Just another example of social engineering, at the expense of legal business owner right to do business in a legal fashion, and the expense of civil rights of all citizens concerned. If they are so worried about what food the kids eat, then close the campus’s (no one leaves the campus once school starts) and leave the food trucks alone. Also, as an after thought, does this ordinance specify times in which the ban is in effect? This thought comes alng thelines of squeezing out competion. One person menetioned that thee were resturants (McD’s, Carls Jr., etc) that benifit if the food trucks were forced out.

    This ordinance, across the board, stinks of favoritism at best, or lack of brain power at worse

  12. April 7, 2009 7:31 pm

    School “beaneries” and cafeteria food are total crap in San Francisco. The cafeteria stuff comes from the poorly funded federal government, and the on-campus vendor sells the same old pre-packaged crap.

    At least the taco trucks serve honest and fresh food. What the hell is wrong with that?

  13. April 7, 2009 7:59 pm

    I love that pot clubs only have to be 500 to 1000 feet away from the school!

    Thank you for the shout-out – I’d be glad to draft an amendment.

    Maybe one of you city folks can help me out here – since when are middle-schoolers allowed off campus during lunch? At my podunk Georgia public middle school, we’d get in very deep shit for that.

  14. Belgand permalink
    April 8, 2009 2:15 am

    When I went to high school we weren’t allowed off-campus at all. I believe the change came about because some kid got into an accident during open-lunch years before and they decided to close the campus.

    Frankly I have absolutely no problem with allowing kids off campus for lunch and letting any business that wants to to set up as close to schools as they want. It’s the kids’ choice if they want to patronize them or not. This is just an attempt for parents to try and legislate control of their children when they realize they don’t have any other way or forcing their kids to do their bidding. It’s bad for children and even worse for everyone else. Y’know, the vast majority of residents who are not children and don’t have any of their own. Let’s not start using the law to tell your kids what to eat, OK?

  15. April 8, 2009 10:46 am

    yo, why do we need the trucks anyway? why aren’t the restaranteurs making food that people want to eat? why is this such an issue? there’s still a liquor store on the corner selling chips and soda and these trucks are basically just interlopers into their business anyway. why is it a big deal? because you can’t say you were hip and ate from the truck? go inside and sit down where the restaurant owner will love to serve you.

  16. April 8, 2009 12:33 pm

    Err, TP, have you actually been to the Tonayense trucks? Not quite following your liquor store interlopanalogy.

    Hip or not, the trucks make good food and it’s nice to eat outside sometimes, or take food to go. Happy to sit down at a restaurant sometimes — but the alternatives on that block? Hmmm, on that block of Harrison it’s Attitude Cafe, and… (And yes, I know where Atlas, Florida St and other cafes are a few blocks away.)

    The biggest issue is with the school board and their wellness plan treating *everyone* like children.

  17. April 9, 2009 7:45 am

    Melissa, SFUSD middle schools aren’t open campuses. But elementary schoolers don’t have the freedom to dart out of school during the day — they’re in the same class with the same teacher all day and directly supervised when they’re not in class. Middle schoolers change classes unescorted and are at that tween age where they’re eager to push limits. The lure of a catering truck selling sodas and other tempting items right outside the door encourages that, as you can imagine.

    Some SFUSD high schools are open campuses and some aren’t, and some are open at some times for certain students (seniors with a certain GPA on some days, for example). A catering truck outside the door has the same effect at a closed high school campus as at a middle school — I’ve watched it myself.

  18. April 9, 2009 8:03 am

    Oh, and regarding correcting the map? There are a total of four SFUSD middle and high schools in the Mission, and two (Mission High and Everett Middle School) are adjacent to each other, so the catering truck limits on those two schools would overlap heavily. (The others are O’Connell and Horace Mann Middle School).

    I note that the Chron cited your erroneous map today. That’s a bit ironic, with traditional newspapers in free fall and citing their superiority to blogs as an information source because they’re professionally produced edited and supposedly more committed to accuracy. Repeating erroneous information from a blog would seem rather suicidal. That’s off-topic, but…

    It’s also interesting to note the many “f*** obese kids” opinions in the comments on various blogs about this issue. Given that Latinos have higher rates of obesity and related deadly maladies, such as diabetes and heart disease than any ethnicity except for Native Americans, and that it’s a huge and growing crisis for Latino youth, that viewpoint could be interpreted as a bit racist, couldn’t it — one of those “if it were happening to OUR kids, that would be something else” situations. Just a reminder that it’s generally accepted in the medical field that today’s generation of youth will be the first generation in modern history to live a shorter lifespan than their parents’ generation, entirely because of obesity and its deadly effects.

  19. April 9, 2009 10:21 am

    The only possible error I saw was that I had the old St. James school on the map. It’s now listed as “County Alternative/Opportunity”. I pulled the data from the SFUSD website, which shows enrollment 82 grade 9-12 students. It seems to fall under the school-age families program:

    “The California School Age Families Education (Cal-SAFE) Program is designed to increase the availability of support services for enrolled expectant/parenting students to improve academic and vocational skills. Mission Statement: The District County School Programs are structured as professional learning communities which provide education for students who are truant, homeless, pregnant, suspended, expelled or incarcerated. In order to prepare and improve the overall performances of County students in the areas of academics, attendance and behavior, we provide an alternative educational setting whose cornerstones are: standardized teaching, accountability and assessment which enable students to transition to comprehensive or alternative programs in the San Francisco Unified School District.”

    Does this not count as a high school?

    Caroline, please send me a list of all the high schools and middle schools in the city. I’ll be happy to check my map against your data, as I plan on making one for the entire city once I work out a more flexible mapping tool.

    Despite your insinuations, I’m just trying to demonstrate the extent of your ordinance. Sorry if you don’t like how much red is on the map. But even with one school, 1500 feet is just too much. And when you stop grouping predatory food trucks in with El Tonayense, you might get more respect from the commenters.

    As for irony, I point to 1) the students not eating at the truck, and 2) your group not going after the ice cream trucks in front of elementary schools.

  20. April 9, 2009 10:44 am

    In the Mission District: Mission HS, John O’Connell HS, Everett MS, Horace Mann MS.

    I’m not really willing to get into a massive ongoing battle over this one truck. My concern is the integrity of the ordinance. It was passed in an open public process for good reason, as you acknowledge.

    So I’m trying not to get into quibbles about the students eating at the truck OR why every single battle hasn’t been fought — and the notion that if every one hasn’t been fought, none are valid. (I do have to say that as the mom of teens, the notion that if the kids who have money want to eat at the truck they aren’t eating at the truck strikes me as laughable, though — and trust me, if you ever have teens you’ll be going “I can’t believe I ever said that…”)

    By the way, this isn’t like some unique outrage. Both Oakland and Santa Cruz have ordinances keeping catering trucks away from ALL schools — lesser distances, but far more schools, as they include elementary schools. And conflicts between L.A. schools and taco trucks have been going on for years. So the “only in San Francisco” notion doesn’t hold up either.

  21. skanger o'neill permalink
    April 9, 2009 12:16 pm

    Why do we need to trucks? Because it costs a gosh-darn fortune to start a restaurant, and making it difficult to do so means we have to pay a gosh-darn fortune to eat.

    Controlling the competition around schools for student customers is an idiotic, insecure and fascist stance…. whether trucks are selling chips and soda, tacos, or fois gras. The food in schools (for the most part) is complete garbage — health– and taste-wise. Improve that (dramatically) and it won’t matter if Hostess parks a truck outside. Our culture does not educate with regards to good, healthy, enjoyable food, or a healthy and social way to consume it, and at the government level, does almost nothing to improve this. So the ‘official’ position becomes “keep the ‘bad’ stuff away” and they’ll eat here…

    Tear down the moronic laws, and hire some innovative (and local-minded) chef’s to make a change — heck, they’ve started to do it in other countries (and I’m sure in pockets all over the US) and involve the kids (shout out to Mission Pie).

  22. skanger o'neill permalink
    April 9, 2009 12:52 pm

    PS: Teach a love of food and health, and allow someone who’s old enough to drive (and nearly old enough to go to war), the freedom to make their own decisions.

  23. April 9, 2009 2:19 pm

    Yes, we children’s health activists hear this stuff all the time, along with the bashing as “food nazis.” It used to be heavily orchestrated by the soda and junk-food industries, often through their front operation in D.C., the Center for Consumer Freedom (which used such high-class tactics as posting a page on the weight problems of scientist/activist Kelly Brownell of Yale, author of “Food Fight”).

    As noted, the quality of cafeteria food is impaired by an extreme lack of funding, showing how much our society cares about feeding children — of course from all the “f*** obese children” comments on these burrito posts, we can see how much people care about children in general. However, cafeteria food is required to meet federal nutrition standards, including strict limits on calories, total fat and saturated fat. And that’s vigorously audited, under threat of the loss of funding. SFUSD Student Nutrition runs at a deficit, which means it pulls money out of classroom needs. The “competition” that you think is such a good thing sucks away more money from the food service and thus from classroom needs (of course, the “f*** children” folks aren’t exactly moved by this, but there may be some people with social consciences reading this too).

    The “competition” also doesn’t have to feed low-income students for free and keep meal costs for the others at $3, including milk, fruit and vegetable, nor pay union wages, nor follow the myriad regulations imposed by the USDA’s National School Lunch Program.

    Here’s a commentary that addresses the idea that kids should make their own decisions, among other notions. This was actually aimed at those who espoused continuing to sell junk food AT schools. As noted, when that stopped, catering trucks moved up to the front doors of schools to sell the same unhealthy items, which is why this regulation was imposed.

    Rebutting Big Soda’s favorite sound bites

    Claim: All foods can be part of a balanced diet!
    Response: Sure, as an occasional snack. But a daily lunch of junk food harms kids’ health and their ability to learn.
    Claim: Kids should have free choice and should learn to exercise personal responsibility!
    Response: We don’t expect young children to exercise personal responsibility by crossing the street alone. We hold their hands. And until they’re grown up, we still guide and protect our kids.
    Claim: Kids will just go off campus to buy junk food!
    Response: Maybe. But schools must not contribute to harming their health. While schools are educating students and their families about the junk-food-laden environment that helps create the nutrition crisis, they undermine their own message by being part of that environment. Schools need to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
    Claim: Offering poor choices teaches kids to choose wisely!
    Response: If that were true, obesity would decrease as junk food proliferated in schools. And we don’t offer kids cigarettes, alcohol or pornography to teach them to make wise choices.
    Claim: It’s parents’ responsibility to keep their kids from buying junk food at school!
    Response: Parents are undermined when schools surround their kids with unhealthy snacks and sodas. And even if parents could control what their kids ate at school, not all parents are vigilant enough to be aware of the problem. Schools should not be encouraged to harm the health of children who have less savvy parents.
    Claim: 18-year-olds can serve in the military and vote, and some high-schoolers are 18, so they should have access to whatever foods they want!
    Response: 18-year-olds CAN eat whatever foods they want — they just shouldn’t be able to buy them at school. Schools need to emphasize protecting the youngest and most vulnerable students rather than accommodating the oldest and least vulnerable.

  24. April 9, 2009 2:35 pm

    Sigh…. For the Nth time, I agree with you that trucks swarming the school door are bad (ignoring the contradiction of having soda-selling stores and snack-wielding restaurants as neighbors). I’m all for a 500 foot ban.

    But 1500 feet goes too far. You don’t get to treat a third of the Mission and tens of thousands of people as your personal food-free playground. Part of school is learning to play nicely with others.

  25. April 9, 2009 2:46 pm

    Vending vehicle policies in other cities

    1. Oakland

    Vending prohibited 500 feet from the parcel boundary of any school K-12

    (Chapter 8.09.050 Permit conditions and issuance, section 4)
    4. The vehicular food vendor shall not locate within two hundred (200) feet (as measured from the parcel boundary) of any fast food restaurant2 or other vehicular food vendor3, full-service restaurant4 or delicatessen5, or within five hundred (500) feet of any public park or primary or secondary school.

    2. Santa Cruz

    Vending prohibited within 300 feet of any school K-12

    Chapter L, section 2
    2. Permittee shall not vend within 300 feet of any school.

    3. Palm Desert

    Click to access Palm%20Desert%20Municipal%20Code%20Food%20Vending%20Vehicles.pdf

    Vending prohibited within 1500 feet of the property line of any school k-12

    Chapter 5.97.110 prohibited conduct (section A,1)
    A. No person shall vend from a food vending truck which is stopped, parked or standing on any public street, alley or highway when the following apply:
    1. When the food vending truck is parked within one thousand five hundred feet of the nearest property line of any school property, park, playground or recreational facility;

    4. Santa Ana

    Click to access SantaAnaVendingVehicles.pdf

    No vending within 500 feet of any school K-12 and including nursery schools

    Division 3 –vending vehicles
    Section 36-51 Definitions
    School shall mean any institution of learning for minors, whether public or private, offering instruction in those courses of study required by the California Education Code and maintained pursuant to standards set by the state board of education. This definition includes a nursery school, kindergarten, elementary school, middle or junior high school, senior high school, or any special institution of education, but it does not include either a vocational institution or a professional institution of higher educations, including a community or junior college, college, or university.

    Section 34-56 Prohibited conduct
    (a) No owner or operator of a vending vehicle shall permit vending within five hundred (500) feet of any school, park, community center, or playground facility

  26. April 9, 2009 2:50 pm

    I listed the four schools in the Mission to which the ordinance applies. I’m not clear why your map shows many more, but that’s not accurate.

    It shouldn’t be that difficult to get a list of operating SFUSD middle and high schools districtwide.

    The law is not *my* ordinance nor my personal food-free playground; it was passed unanimously by the Board of Supervisors. I didn’t write it (nor select the distance). The law was passed under an open public process (the truck’s lawyer said otherwise, but that wasn’t true — and you and I both heard him take an oath to tell the truth; how shocking).

  27. April 9, 2009 3:17 pm

    I’d like a city-wide list of schools that this applies to, please. You are more familiar with the status of all the schools. Help me make my map more accurate. Like I said, I got the list from the SFUSD website, yet you have issues with it.

    You didn’t answer my question on the old St. James campus.

    Click to access sarc-CAO.pdf

    Does the rule not apply to the San Francisco Unified Cal-SAFE schools? If that’s the case, why not?

  28. April 9, 2009 3:20 pm

    As far as I know, the law doesn’t apply to continuation programs, if that’s what that is; just to general education middle and high schools.

  29. April 9, 2009 3:25 pm

    Current list of operating SFUSD middle schools:

    Current list of operating SFUSD high schools:

    These lists don’t include charter schools, which aren’t governed by SFUSD regulations, as you heard at the hearing.

  30. skanger o'neill permalink
    April 9, 2009 3:28 pm

    I appreciate the play-by-play Big Soda arguments, etc…. as well as the ‘nutritional lunches’ argument. And while USDA does have rigorous (and rigorously enforced) standards — those standards DO NOT MEAN that what children eat at school is nutritious. Just like when a pound of hamburger at Costco is stamped “Choice” or “Inspected” it doesn’t mean that it’s not chock full of hormones (and other little nasties). It simply means that the government has verified that a particular product meets certain arbitrary requirements.

    I feel like the most important point here isn’t whether kids will make the right decisions…. it’s that they haven’t been given the tools to make the right decisions — no reflection on parents or educators, it’s simply that we as a culture are just starting to recognize it ourselves. It

    Pulling money out of the classroom? Great! FOOD IS IMPORTANT. As important as some [many] of the things that happen in the classroom. It’s as much a part of who we are as the air we breathe, and certainly more than the books we read. I have a fairly good idea of the budgetary situations (at least here in CA), both of my parents were public-school educators for many years… and I think I have a pretty good idea of the kind of battle that significant change takes. But ultimately, it’s obvious that whatever system is currently in place is failing miserably? Kids’s aren’t getting inspired about food, and the result is poor health in childhood and adulthood, and more fast food restaurants, and more vending machines, etc….

    So ban the vending machines, close the campus (high school too), but don’t make kids eat something that no reasonable adult would want to eat every day…. and don’t make them choke it down in 30 minutes while blowing whistles as them (sorry, bad flashback to my own elementary school days there….). Engage the incredible wealth of professional resources we have here in the Bay Area — the great chef’s, restauranteurs, and farmers.

    Problem (almost) solved.

  31. April 9, 2009 3:48 pm

    Thank you, Caroline. I will make the SFUSD county/court schools a different color for now as I don’t quite understand why they’re excluded.

    Despite your implications, I’m not trying to stuff the map full of red circles. That’s the problem with a 1500 foot radius — it adds up. Even including the overlap, the no-go zone is over 3/4th of a square mile in the Mission alone!

    Is the John O’Connell lunch menu available online? I see the October K-12 menu on the SFUSD website.

    Interesting they have burritos and tacos…

  32. April 10, 2009 12:10 am

    Comparative analysis of food truck distance limitations by commenter “miraloma” over at sfgate (9th comment down)

    Vending prohibited 500 feet from the parcel boundary of any school K-12

    Santa Cruz
    Vending prohibited within 300 feet of any school K-12

    Palm Desert
    Vending prohibited within 1500 feet of the property line of any school K-12

    Santa Ana
    No vending within 500 feet of any school K-12 and including nursery schools

    So SF is like Palm Desert? Dear god, we’re so screwed. That is dead-town-walking.

  33. April 10, 2009 12:18 am

    My apologies Caroline — your comment on the CA distances got caught up in the WordPress spam filter (pretty much guaranteed if you have more than two links). I approved it — ironically after I posted the above link — but still don’t see it.

    But I think it goes to prove my point — I’d be happy with a 500 foot ban to keep trucks of ill intent from swarming the school doors. but 1500 feet is too much. Palm Desert = DESERT. Lots of space, not like SF, one of the most densely populated cities in the US.

  34. April 10, 2009 12:00 pm

    Palm Desert is only one of the several cities; note the list of five I originally appended (and I learned that Monterey and Salinas have similar laws too).

    And all of them include elementary schools (of which SFUSD has around 75); some include private schools and all preschools too. At least one includes parks and other recreational facilities too. Thus their 500-food limits are around far more sites, which would be far more restrictive than the law San Francisco currently has (1,500-food limit, but around far fewer sites.

    It looks like your crusade was initially to exempt that one El Tonayense truck from the law and has now evolved to “change the law.”

    By the way, I wasn’t trying to accuse you of deliberate dishonestly with the red donuts.

    New post — setting the record straight on various misconceptions and misstatements in the taco truck fracas:

  35. April 10, 2009 1:16 pm

    Amend the ordinance to something reasonable given there seems little chance to get exemptions, you bet.

    Once again, I have no issue with a reasonable ordinance keeping predatory food trucks away from school entrances, which seems to be the case in most other cities.

  36. April 11, 2009 10:31 am

    As noted, the red circles are much more numerous in (what turns out to be) the many other cities that have ordinances restricting mobile food vendors. All those cities include public elementary schools, and some include private schools, preschools, parks and recreation areas too. So if SF had modeled its ordinance after one of those other cities’ (which would be a normal, commonplace and reasonable way to make legislation) — I can’t even begin to keep track of the number of schools it would apply to. Sanchez, Marshall, Flynn, Chavez, Moscone, St. Paul, Immaculate Conception, more small parochial schools that I’m sure I’m not aware of, Synergy, Katherine Michiels, Friends — the doughnut would be smaller, but there would be infinitely more of them. So I’m not clear why that would appear to be preferable to you.

  37. April 11, 2009 5:06 pm

    πr2 illustrates the problem.

    3x the radius means 9x the area affected. A 1500 foot radius is over a quarter square mile of area. A 500 foot radius is 0.03 square miles.

    While 1500 feet may work in the desert, it’s overkill given San Francisco’s population density of 16,000 people per square mile (and upwards of 30,000 per square mile in the Mission).

    I’d be fine with a 500 foot limit around schools to avoid the predatory trucks, with some a reasonable amendment for “adult” taco trucks.

  38. chunkee permalink
    April 12, 2009 9:04 am

    My right to eat is being infringed upon with this stupidity.

    The area outside a school shouldn’t fall under different laws and you can be sure that this is a field day for lawyers at the cost of businesses and the public tax dollars.

    WTF are kids doing off school grounds anyway ?

  39. April 12, 2009 10:32 am

    All this flap inspired a lot of research on the laws in other cities. Currently, we’ve found 24 California cities besides SF that have these restrictions. (So far.) So, this is a completely normal, routine, run-of-the-mill city law, not some kind of “only in San Francisco” item. And in L.A., there are ongoing controversies over taco trucks selling outside schools.

    All 24 of those cities that restrict mobile food vendors include public elementary schools, unlike SF, and a number of them include private schools and preschools. Some include parks and other recreation facilities too. So, if you wanted to model the law after what’s commonly done in other cities, it would likely be more restrictive.

    Re what kids are doing off school grounds: In high schools, some are open campuses. Some are open under certain circumstances, such as to seniors who maintain a certain GPA, sometimes one or two days a week.

    The SF law doesn’t include elementary schools on the basis that elementary students remain in one class with one teacher all day and are under close supervision all day, including moving around the school halls. By middle school, and in closed-campus high schools, students move from class to class without close supervision and generally have more freedom of movement. Teens are not automatons. The temptation and ability to dart off campus do exist, and the lure of a food truck outside the door makes that more likely.

  40. April 12, 2009 12:19 pm

    I expect San Francisco to have better, smarter laws than other cities. (Though I am surprised that catering trucks are allowed outside elementary schools during the start and end of the school day.)

    What are the distances for those other cities?

    You are sticking to your line, and I mine — the difference between a truck like El Tonayense and those that prey upon innocent children is rather clear. Your law is too vast, too wide.

  41. April 13, 2009 8:52 am

    In the other cities, the limit is mostly 500 feet — but as I said, the law applies to vastly more locations. So their maps would show smaller donuts, but many more of them.

    It’s not my law; it’s a city law, passed under the standard, legitimate, open public process (despite the misinformation given by the truck’s lawyer at the hearing — and I heard him take an oath to tell the truth, too — I’m shocked, shocked!).

    I wouldn’t kick up a huge fuss if a compromise of some kind were worked out — but then, I do look at those statistics on the John O’Connell students’ rate of passing the state fitness tests (the ones Dana Woldow was so mocked for bringing up) and have to wonder.

    This single truck isn’t my focus, though. The barrage of blog protests about the truck has included a whole lot of mockery of the entire concept — you are an exception, johnnyO, and I appreciate that — including lots of “f*** obese youth — let them take personal responsibility” sneering. That’s when I find it worth the effort to keep up with the blogs and post some factual comment.

    Two threads on this topic on the EaterSF blog were taken down entirely, presumably because the flaming (of Dana Woldow and me, both volunteer parents who are longtime children’s health advocates) got so nasty.

    I would really dispute that I’m being so dogmatic. People who are so fixated on this cause that they think it’s legitimate to mock and sneer at concerns over the childhood obesity crisis that’s ravaging the Latino and Black communities — and I include the SF Weekly’s food blogger in that description — would seem to be the ones who would benefit from broadening their perspectives.

  42. July 30, 2010 10:29 pm

    Well thought, unique take on this topic.

  43. October 17, 2013 11:32 pm

    This is a very good tip especially to those fresh to the
    blogosphere. Brief but very accurate information… Thank you for sharing this one.
    A must read post!


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