Berkeley City Council to consider relocating food trucks

Brenna Alexander/File
The Heavenly Food Cart , run by Ann Vu, use to be set up in front of Upper Sproul Plaza near Bancroft and Telegraph.

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City Councilmember Kriss Worthington has asked the city to assist the owners of the food trucks previously located in front of Sproul Plaza in finding new locations.

At its March 19 meeting, Berkeley City Council will consider a referral submitted by Worthington requesting the city manager to assist Michael Koh, Ann Vu and Jack Huynh, the respective owners of Dojo Dog, Healthy Heavenly Foods and Kettle Corn Star, in relocating their businesses. The move comes more than two months after the vendors were asked to vacate the property in December due to Lower Sproul construction.

Mayor Tom Bates has also called upon the city manager to look into finding alternative locations for the vendors.

Worthington characterized the vendors’ notice to vacate two days before the beginning of construction as “offensive and outrageous.” Usually, authorized businesses are notified one to two months in advance if they need to vacate for construction purposes, he said.

“This construction project has been planned for five years,” Worthington said. “It’s not like some emergency that just sprung up.”

Worthington said he hopes his referral will prompt the city to consider alternatives for the vendors more seriously in the future.

The owners, who invested in the trucks last year under a four-year permit program with the city, are reaching out for either alternative locations or compensation from the city because they cannot afford to keep paying the trucks’ parking permits or insurance.

The vendors say Worthington’s action may bring them the help they need to earn their livelihoods again.

“It’s kind of like when you’re drowning and someone throws you a rope,” said Koh, a UC Berkeley senior. “The city was pretty much going to avoid us. Because of (Worthington), they will start to reinvestigate and put in some serious effort.”

Vu has also been trying to reach out to UC Berkeley students on Lower Sproul for help in further gaining attention from the city.

“I went there last Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday to reach out to students,” Vu said. “The people support me.”

The vendors said their previous locations near Lower Sproul were ideal but that they are willing to operate anywhere the city allows as long as they will receive business.

Worthington said he hopes the city can come to an agreement with the vendors in the next two weeks, before Berkeley City Council is set to discuss the request.

Aly Neumann covers city government. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @AlyNeumann.