Food trucks near Berkeley Law face relocation as permits approach expiration

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With the expiration of their permits approaching, food trucks situated near the UC Berkeley School of Law must vacate their current locations by spring 2016.

Food trucks Dojo Dog, Healthy Heavenly Foods and Kettle Corn Star currently have permits that allow them to conduct business at Bancroft Way and College Avenue until March 2016. Originally issued in July 2013, these permits were intended to last for one year, with the possibility of extension for an additional two years. The maximum permit allowance, however, was permanently capped at three years.

Victoria Shih, a city food truck vendor, submitted a request to extend her permit past the set expiration date, according to a document presented by City Manager Dee Williams-Ridley to Berkeley City Council on Oct. 14. Shih’s request, however, was denied.

According to city spokesperson Matthai Chakko, the city, the campus, local property owners and the three vendors agreed to the permit’s conditions, which included the expiration of the permits.

Councilmember Kriss Worthington said the termination of the permits does not necessarily indicate that the food trucks will cease business, but rather that the trucks can no longer conduct business in their current location.

City Council is suggesting a new permit application to have the food truck owners relocate and is awaiting a response from the city manager.

“When the City Council has a chance to vote, they have repeatedly voted so far that they want to keep (the trucks),” Worthington said. “I think (the trucks) add (to) a vibrant, positive street life.”

The city’s Office of Economic Development is also assisting the vendors by establishing connections — such as with local loan offices and area brokers — that will allow them to stay in business, but at an alternate location.

Customers, however, expressed concern regarding the relocation and possible closing of the food trucks.

Nithipat Sinpeng, a campus law student, said he frequents the Healthy Heavenly Foods truck “two or three times a week” because of the close proximity to Berkeley Law.

He said the relocation of the trucks would be “inconvenient” and would force customers to find alternate eateries.

This is not the first time the food trucks have faced relocation. In 2013, food trucks that were originally situated on Telegraph Avenue in front of campus moved away from the area because of construction for the Lower Sproul Redevelopment Project. The outcome of the 2013 negotiations resulted in the trucks moving to their current location.

Mitchell Quon, a campus junior, praised the food trucks for their convenience, adding that the trucks “provide a unique cuisine” and serve customers in “a way where they don’t have to buy land.”

“It’s taking away (their) livelihoods, and that’s not right,” Quon said.

Contact Ericka Shin at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @ericka_shin