The City of Santa Ana has established a pilot program to green light food truck vendor pods and food pop-ups on both city-owned and private properties.
This action is a creative urban design solution that begins to balance the age-old clash of neighbors who feel impacted by unregulated food truck vending with the needs of "those who live and work in areas where food may not be readily available," according to the City.
If you're not familiar with "food truck pods" or food truck islands, they are small groupings of food vending businesses clustered in a sort of outdoor food hall or food court .
Portland, Oregon is synonymous with these food truck pods and parking lot food courts. In Downtown Portland, immigrant food entrepreneurs circumferenced an entire parking lot with nearly 100 food carts. The idea caught on in adjacent Portland neighborhoods where "the pods" serve as de facto neighborhood centers with amenities like seating, ATMs, bathrooms, movie screens and community events.
One of the most-established food vendor pods in the Portland neighborhood of Belmont.
The City of Santa Ana currently allows food vending businesses to operate on private property for up to 6 days per year and this new pilot program works by extending that period up to 6 months with the possibility of extension.
City properties that have been identified as sites where food vehicles could apply include the Santa Ana Zoo, Santa Ana Regional Transit Center, Cesar Chavez Park, and in the Civic Center. Private properties can apply through the planning department for a land use certificate and/or Special Event Permit.
Potential Food Truck Pod site at First Street and Bush Street. (Image courtesy of Google Street View)
Some of the best food truck vendors in the world are in Santa Ana. Like Tortas Ahogadas Los Primos on W 5th Street.
The City will consider many factors in allowing a food vendor on a particular property -- from security concerns to sanitation and general maintenance, and proximity to similar brick & mortar uses.
During the pilot program, the City will work to "identify impacts and unintended effects and evaluate best practices to minimize potential impacts to brick and mortar businesses and surrounding neighborhoods, while encrouaging entrepreneurial enterprises."
Story by Ryan Smolar
Photos by Brian Feinzimer, Ryan Smolar