City asks food trucks near campus to leave

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The city of Berkeley has asked the food trucks at Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue to vacate the premises, a move that caught many vendors by surprise.

On Tuesday, the city notified the food trucks Dojo Dog, Healthy Heavenly Foods and Kettle Corn Star that they had three days to move off the property in order to allow for upcoming construction on Lower Sproul.

Ann Vu, owner of Healthy Heavenly Foods, said that this was the first notification she and the other food truck owners had received and that the trucks will have to stay off the site for at least two years.

“It was too short notice — I have no plan,” Vu said. “It’s very horrible for my business. I need the income for my family.”

The construction — a part of the Lower Sproul Redevelopment Project — is scheduled to begin next week, and the sidewalks, as well as part of the street, will be closed off, said Christine Shaff, communications director of the campus Facilities Services Department.

Even though the construction will be managed by the university, the property on which the food trucks operate remains under the purview of the city, according to Shaff.

“Food trucks are regulated by the city of Berkeley — they are there via whatever permissions the city gives,” Shaff said. “We’ve done our best to let local business owners know when construction is coming up … as far as having any authority to talk them about their location — that’s the city.”

Vu said that the city officials she spoke with encouraged her to scout the area surrounding the campus to look for potential relocation sites. But the odds of finding a location that belongs to the city and attracts as much foot traffic as Sproul Plaza are low, she said.

“There’s a lot on the line — I’ve invested a lot of time and money in this … these trucks don’t come cheap,” said Michael Koh, owner of Dojo Dog and a UC Berkeley senior. “We were expecting a four-year plan and have only been here for eight or nine months.”

Koh said that he and the other owners are scheduled to meet with city officials to negotiate on Friday to work towards some sort of resolution.

“It’s very tough having finals and dealing with things like this,” Koh said. “I’m supposed to be studying, but I just can’t when my business is getting screwed.”

Sara Khan covers academics and administration. Contact her at [email protected].