The City of Turlock (a neighboring town of Modesto, Calif.) is butting heads with a taco truck owner as to what type of construction is and isn’t allowed.
The Modesto Bee:
Mariscos Camino Real opened two months ago with a food wagon and seafood-only menu in an empty lot next to a small car dealership. Owner Ignacio Ochoa went to the Planning Department shortly after with ideas for improvements, including a concrete pad and heavy canopy tent under which patrons can eat.
No concrete and no construction, he was told.
Ochoa and his partner, Rudy Yanez, put down brick pavers, planters filled with small palms and ficus trees, a fountain and a 24 foot-by-40 foot collapsible outdoor-event tent. Ten stone tables with custom tile tops were installed. Two speakers were hung high in the tent rafters. The men spent $80,000 and ended up with a polished outdoor eating space on a patch of leased land.
“Our goal was to change perception,” Yanez said last week. “All taco trucks are not the same. It’s not filthy. There’s space to eat.”
City officials weren’t exactly charmed.
“We went out there for another call and saw it,” said Debbie Whitmore, the city’s planning director. “The reaction was ‘Oh, my God!’ It grew beyond how it was described to us.”
Tension between taco trucks and government isn’t new. Los Angeles County supervisors in April made parking a mobile food operation in the same place for more than an hour a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine or six months in jail. Riverbank uses a similar ordinance to effectively ban them. Vendors can’t spend more than 15 minutes in the same spot. The Patterson City Council is in the process of revising its taco truck policy. Modesto only allows mobile food vendors on industrial-zoned land, hence the concentration by the railroad tracks on Eighth Street. Ceres doesn’t allow them.