What’s the city to do when that taco truck won’t move?

For years now the Tacos Arizas truck parked in front of an Echo Park medical clinic on Logan Street has drawn long lines of customers – and complaints. Some nearby residents have long been upset by the late-night noise and trash generated by customers who walked away with steaming sopes, gooey quesadillas and salsa-soaked tacos from the truck parked just south of Sunset Boulevard. An accumulation of complaints usually prompted LAPD or parking enforcement officers to enforce a one-hour parking limit on catering trucks with a burst of costly parking citations. But, a judge struck down the law in June, leaving the city powerless to make Arizas or any other catering truck move. So, in a first – at least for Echo Park Councilman Eric Garcetti – the city engaged in a bit of taco truck diplomacy.

Negotiations were set up involving Council District 13, LAPD, the truck owners and the Asociacion de Loncheros, a catering truck business group. The council office wanted the truck to move to a location away from apartments and homes. The truck owners, of course, wanted a spot nearby so they wouldn’t lose their existing customers. “As long as people know where they are, it will be okay,” said Alfredo Magallanes, an advisor to the catering truck association.

After the discussions, the owners of Arizas agreed to move the truck about a block north to the other side of Sunset Boulevard next to the Sav-A-Lot market and away from apartments and homes. “This was the first time we worked with a taco truck to have them voluntarily move to a location to address concerns of local residents,” said Garcetti’s spokeswoman, Julie Wong.

The taco truck owners are happy with the new location – and not having to contest $158 parking tickets, said Magallenes. “It was a good approach,” he said of the negotiations with the city. “We got good results.”

However, the Arizas truck is now closer to some restaurants but merchants were not involved in the negotiations over the new location, Magallenes said. One resident, who lives nearby, has also noticed that the Arizas truck sometimes parks closer to Sunset Boulevard than called for in the deal with the city. Also, the neighbor asks, what happens if a caravan of taco, Korean barbecue, cupcake, architectural ice-cream sandwich and other mobile restaurants claim parking spots up and down Sunset Boulevard?

At this point, it looks like the city, which has had a difficult time of late enforcing laws on everything from digital billboards to pot clinics, couldn’t do much. “Taco trucks can now park in accordance with the same parking restrictions as cars,” said Wong. “After parking meter hours they can park for free and for as long as they want.”

Top photo by The Eastsider; bottom photo by belTRON

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