Trucking to a new home

CITY AFFAIRS: The new Bancroft Way and College Avenue location for three city food trucks unfairly puts the future of the trucks in limbo.

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Three food trucks formerly located in front of Bancroft Way and Telegraph Avenue, Healthy Heavenly Foods, Kettle Corn Star and Dojo Dog, were dislocated in December as a result of the Lower Sproul renovation project. Healthy Heavenly Foods recently reopened at the new location, while the latter two are still negotiating their contract terms with the city and have yet to reopen.

But this new location might not be sustainable in the long run.

For one, the new Bancroft and College location is a low-traffic area compared to Bancroft and Telegraph. Healthy Heavenly Foods owner Ann Vu has said she expects to get less business from the new location than she did at Sproul Plaza, where she saw two to three times as many people pass through the area each day. Vu cannot afford this, as she has already lost money in dislocation costs — including damaged food and the cost of parking her truck elsewhere while a new location was settled.

Because some of these food trucks are not part of the popular Off the Grid food truck event — which hosts food trucks gatherings around the Bay Area on a semiweekly basis — they rely on having a specific location in the city where they have built a following and base.

The city and the campus have known that the Lower Sproul project has been in the works for years. The city should have better prepared to support the food trucks by negotiating new locations for them before construction began. The city has not yet notified Vu or her fellow food truck owners about how long or under what the terms they will be able to stay at Bancroft and College. There is also no guarantee that the food trucks will be able to return to their original location in front of Lower Sproul once construction is completed in two years — something the food trucks were originally promised.

The past success of food trucks in the city has shown that they are wanted by students and city residents alike. But if food trucks are considered unlike other city businesses and are not provided with clear terms for and fair contracts in the event of their dislocation, we will prevent them from serving Berkeley’s community and being successful.