Hoping for more public input, City Council pushes out decision on food truck ordinance revisions

Councilmember Lisa Middleton was the sole vote against continuing to work on the revisions, warning, ‘I think we will pay a price for this.’
Most members of the Palm Springs City Council voted to continue working on revisions to food truck regulations in the city Monday evening. Pictured here is a food truck in Indio.

Rules regulating food trucks in the city remain the same after the Palm Springs City Council chose not to vote on updates to the ordinance that would have made it easier for them to operate here.

Driving the news: Councilmembers voted 4-1 to send proposed updates to food truck regulations back to staff for revisions after a lively discussion over the issue.

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  • Councilmember Lisa Middleton was the sole vote against the proposal. 

Background: Currently, food trucks are prohibited in the downtown area, in public parks, and on streets where the speed limit exceeds 35 miles per hour. They are also only allowed to operate from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the winter and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. in the summer.

At issue: The proposed ordinance changes would have allowed them in public parks while the parks were open and allowed them on streets with a speed limit of 40 mph or less. It also would have extended the hours they could operate from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m.

The debate: Councilmember Middleton was staunchly against the proposal and voiced her concerns about food trucks taking parking away from brick-and-mortar businesses and food trucks in parks making noise in residential neighborhoods.

  • Other councilmembers supported explicit guidelines about how far away food trucks should be from brick-and-mortar restaurants. 

What they’re saying: Middleton reminded her colleagues that the city didn’t have much say in regulating street food vendors thanks to state laws. 

  • “We had no choice on the sidewalk vending, and it brought incredible division to the city,” she said Monday night. “We have choices on [food trucks], and we are bringing more division into the city, and I think we will pay a price for this.”

What to watch for: The council hopes for more resident feedback on the issue and plans to bring the proposed changes back up for debate at a future meeting. Proposals surfaced Monday evening include:

  • A 200-foot separation between food trucks and restaurants;
  • A street parking limitation of two hours;
  • Food trucks must adhere to city food ware ordinances; and 
  • Food trucks can only vend on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or below.


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