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Attorney: Monrovia Agrees to Repeal Food Truck Ban

Monrovia has settled a lawsuit from the Socal Mobile Food Vendors Association and agreed to repeal its ban on food trucks in Old Town, according to a lawyer for the association.

Monrovia officials have agreed to repeal a ban the city placed on food trucks operating in Old Town as (SoCalMFVA), an attorney for the association told Patch Thursday.

As part of the settlement, city officials have agreed to repeal eight key provisions of a 2010 ordinance that banned food trucks from Old Town and restricted their operation throughout the city, SoCalMFVA attorney Kevin Behrendt said.

"Monrovia agreed to repeal the eight sections of the statute that the association challenged," Behrendt said. "The outcome is what we wanted."

Since the City Council cannot directly agree to pass or repeal legislation outside of a public meeting, the agreement requires city staff to recommend the repeal of the ordinance to the council, Behrendt said.

Councilman Tom Adams said in a telephone interview Thursday that he has not seen the settlement agreement and was only told that its finalization was imminent when the City Council met in closed session about the subject on Tuesday. He said the city's legal counsel recommended that the city settle to save money fighting the suit in court.

"It does unfortunately get down to weighing the economic side of it," Adams said. "Our advice was that it would be cheaper to not fight this than it would to fight it."

City Attorney Craig Steele did not immediately return messages left with his secretary and on his cell phone voicemail. His secretary said he is out of town Thursday.

Steele reviewed the ordinance before it was passed by the City Council, and Adams said that he didn't believe the legal advice the council received was necessarily incorrect when the city passed the law. Steele's law firm, Richards Watson & Gershon, also defended the city in the lawsuit.

SoCalMFVA sued Monrovia after the City Council passed an ordinance in 2010 that barred food trucks from operating in Old Town and other parts of the city. The group because the city was unfairly protecting the interests of local small businesses at the expense of mobile vendors.

Adams said that the settlement does not amount to an admission by the city that its ordinance was illegal. And the city is not trying to keep food trucks out of town, he said.

"It's not that we’re trying to keep lunch trucks out of Monrovia, we’re just trying to have a little sense with them," he said. "Every time you go to make a change you hope you’re doing the right thing. Every now and then we get stung on something and we have to go back and undo it but I’d rather be in a position to undo a few mistakes then not do some of the great things that have changed Monrovia."

Kristy Sketeris September 06, 2012 at 06:55 PM
Yay!
Gayle M. Montgomery September 06, 2012 at 06:59 PM
Glad to hear it. Seems we ought to find an empty lot not currently being used and encourage them to turn it into their own little outlet mall temporarily. Good use of resources, and a chance to explore new venues. If the little trucks do well, who knows, maybe they'll expand to brick and mortar. Hoping that either (through Nathan) the Patch will include some of the locations in town or that the vendors themselves will post their locations as events on the Patch. Then it's up to us to decide if we wish to avail ourselves of them.
R Terry September 06, 2012 at 08:11 PM
I would not exactly call it "unfairIy protecting the local businesses". I wonder if they will be able to use the parking lots next to the restaurants they will be competing against? Will they have to pay any fees? Will there be a limit as to how many can operate in the city?
Robert Parry September 07, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Will they have to pay for business licenses? Monrovia utility costs? Trash costs? Will they hire local kids who are looking for jobs? Will the sponsor Chamber events or community organizations? Or will they merely squat near the visitors who are attracted by Monrovia merchant's advertising and leach off the expenses of other businesses, then leave there mess behind (in public trash cans) without doing anything for the community?
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Dan Crandell September 07, 2012 at 03:18 PM
Time for some new people at City Hall. The trust is gone and once the bar is bent it can not be straightened . Recalls must be considered .
SgtJackWagon September 07, 2012 at 03:31 PM
They are not called "ROACH COACHES" because of their cleanliness!
Dan Crandell September 07, 2012 at 03:35 PM
Special note to Don Hopper. We the people of Monrovia need your help in our city government. Our city is under attack at several levels because of mismanagement . Don please step forward for us.
Dan Crandell September 07, 2012 at 04:04 PM
@Tom Adams ... I know you will see this comment ... How dare you believe that we will accept these kinds of "mistakes" from this Council. Shame on this councils misconduct and mismanagement at "OUR" City Hall. You people are so eager to throw "OUR" money to settle your dimwitted irresponsible decisions. Tom we will require an accounting from this council. Confidence is gone.
Tom Adams September 07, 2012 at 07:53 PM
Dan, thank you for sharing your thoughts. I am not sure I would call this dimwitted but to each their own. You do get an accounting every two years and I trust you exercise yours.
ART FRYE September 07, 2012 at 11:45 PM
We can only insist that the powers that be insist on health inspections, business liscences and handicap access. In addition, fees to cover all costs to the city, including police and fire inspection, trash removal and such must be recovered. These trucks offer no benifits to the city or our citizens, other than saving those few who can stomach eating this type of food a few extra few minutes driving time. By the way, does this mean these trucks will now be hogging parking and littering at our mountain parks???
Dan Crandell September 08, 2012 at 04:42 AM
@ Tom Adams ... Shall we agree to call it "ingenious irresponsible decisions" ???? Give us a break for brains Mr. Adams. Re- appointments are available every two years ... Accountability is continual and I do "exercise mine" Thanks for responding Tom
Kate K. September 08, 2012 at 05:48 AM
"Roach Coaches" is a moniker from over 30 years ago, when the laws and regs covering these vehicles was MUCH different. Now, in this century, they're usually called food trucks, and most (at least those run by fine restaurants and chefs) not only comply with local sanitation codes, they exceed them on their own volition, because they want to keep and expand their business. I'm betting you've never worked in nor looked into the kitchens of your local brick-&-mortar restaurants, or you'd know that kitchens with wheels are actually less likely to be infested than most restaurants.
Kate K. September 08, 2012 at 06:20 AM
Most of this rather costly debacle seems to be due to our community reacting to changes in business and in our society by enacting prohibitive laws and regulations to "Stop" something. This all seems fear-based ! Restaurants feared the "new" (5 years ago now) food truck business explosion, and so Monrovia prohibited them entirely instead of taking a slow, conservative approach, perhaps enacting short-term limits on their numbers and locations. Previously, residents and businesses feared the spread of "vice", based on memories the tawdry, pre-1990s "Rock-Rovia" era along Myrtle, and so placed a total ban on all forms of massage therapy in any Old Town establishment. (There is one Old Town salon can perform these services but only because their business was grandfathered in, which could seem rather anti-competitive and anti-free trade). So, unless we wish to get our massages at the gym, Monrovians now take our theraputic massage business to Arcadia, Sierra Madre, and Pasadena. Perhaps if both the citizens and elected officials of Monrovia can learn to avoid merely reacting to news that incites fear, and instead approach these issues (as there will always be more change coming) with reason and rationality instead of fear, then we will be able to have balanced, reasoned AND timely regulations to take us into the future. Sadly, we still have on the books more than one example of reactionary and prohibitive laws that will result in expensive legal cases in the future.
Kate K. September 08, 2012 at 06:37 AM
Art, please go to one of the many food truck sites or events regularly held in Arcadia, Pasadena and other neighboring cities, and see how much space they hog and trash they leave. You may be pleasantly surprised (unless you are unhappy to have your assumptions disproven). These trucks are not the late-night low-level cheap-eats food trucks of earlier decades. These are small restaurants on wheels, whose patrons locate them by following them on their website, Facebook or Twitter feeds. They only lack walls and chairs. Please read up on the food truck phenomenon joining the dining options of Americans in all major cities, by looking the subject up at L.A. Times, SGVNews, KABC7 or other reliable regional website. There are numerous articles dating back 3 or 4 years.
Gayle M. Montgomery September 08, 2012 at 01:52 PM
Art, I understand why you would be concerned, but I would suggest the city benchmark the practices of a number of other locations who have them and adopt best practices. There are a number of trucks that were so popular, they would tweet their location, and folks would amass in no time flat, selling out. What this could also do is bring ancillary business to our city. Folks who come for the trucks still come to our town. If we are business friendly, they may be more inclined to visit other businesses within the town, and a wise merchant (other than perhaps a restaurant) might get with some of these truck owners to have coupons passed out for discount as incentive to visit their propriety. It could be a reciprocal deal. Using Tom as a hypothetical (hi, Tom), he could have coupons in his office for discount for specific trucks, and those trucks could have a thank you for your support banner, or visit Tom Adams on his cups. Just thinking of ways to be creative and turn this into a real win instead of a blight.
Average Joe September 08, 2012 at 11:19 PM
Passing an ordinance to ban food trucks from Monrovia was in fact an attempt to prohibit mobile vendors from doing business in Monrovia. Settlement of the law suit may not be an admission that the ordinance was illegal but if it was in fact a legal ordinance then why did the Council pass the ordinance if there was no intent on defending it in court. It was clearly a bad move by the Council. They should have done their due diligence and research before throwing away that much money on attorney fees for nothing. It's another reckless decision by the City Council. A lot of food trucks have a loyal following that actually bring people to the area they visit. Those people after catching a quick dinner will visit other shops in the area or catch a movie.
SgtJackWagon September 09, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Kate you seem well versed in the Food Truck Phenomenon. What is the scoop on the orange food truck that used to be mobile and parked in front of Home Depot. Seems as if they took the body of the truck off it's chassis and placed it on the deck. I'm assuming it is no longer classified as a mobile food truck, but as a restaurant.
Kate K. September 09, 2012 at 04:26 PM
Jack- From what little I know, the Tastee Express is there at Home Depot at the behest of the store. The one time in left, long ago, there was discontent among both employees and store patrons, so it returned. Apparently it does a decent trade (---who'd have guessed?). Yes, it stopped being a "mobile" food stand quite a while ago, and is now wheels-free as well. Tastee Express was never part of the food truck "issue" for the City since its on private property, with the property owner's permission. It has the usual food vendors permits and health certs, ala the drive-thrus and those at the Family Fair on Myrtle every Friday. The Monrovia Now e-newsletter reviewed it just last week: please see below (Photo of food at the website). www.Monrovia.Now.com Sep 07, 2012 12:37 pm Lunch the other day at Tastee Express. That's the little hot dog stand out front of Home Depot. There are some tables with umbrellas so don't worry, you won't have to sit on the curb. Got the Polish dog combo for $6.95. Hey! That was really a great dog! This is across town for me but if I'm in the mood for a Polish dog I think I'll be back.

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