Late Night Food Trucks, Pedicabs, Parking On Santa Monica Council Agenda

Monday, 8 Apr 2013, 9:25:00 AM

Parimal M. Rohit

Late night eats and regulating pedicabs on Santa Monica Beach are on the City Council’s radar next week, as Council members convene Tuesday for the first time in three weeks. The council will also consider a resolution to make rates for parking structures in  downtown more affordable for disabled residents living in nearby affordable housing units.

At the request of Santa Monica Police Department (SMPD) chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, the council will consider a proposed ordinance to expand the prohibition of limiting late night street vending on Main Street.

“In recent years, commercial vending activities from vehicles, particularly food trucks, have grown exponentially within the City,” a City staff report stated. “The impact of this increase in vending activities has been most acute on Main Street during late night hours, when food trucks operating near alcohol serving establishments attract large crowds of persons.”

The report stated that large crowds created extreme congestion of the narrow sidewalks along Main Street, forced pedestrians onto the road, and posed significant safety hazards to the public.

The council addressed SMPD’s concerns about the safety hazards posed by the crowding at and near food trucks by adopting a “narrow ordinance” in November 2011. That ordinance prohibited food trucks from operating along Main Street between Ocean Park Boulevard and Marine Street between 1 am and 3 am on Saturdays and Sundays.

According to the SMPD, the previously approved ordinance was an effective tool in protecting public safety along Main Street.

“However, the same safety concerns that precipitated [the ordinance] remain apparent during certain holidays popularly associated with alcohol consumption that may fall on a week day,” the City staff report stated.

Hence, SMPD requests the council to expand the ordinance prohibiting food trucks along Main Street to include the area south of Marine Street to the City’s southernmost border where Santa Monica meets Venice.

Since certain popular holidays that are associated with alcoholic consumption do not occur on a Saturday or Sunday, the proposed ordinance would also expand the prohibition to include Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Halloween, and New Year’s Day in the event any of those days landed on a weekday.

According to City staff, 213 food trucks are licensed to operate within Santa Monica.

The dais will also consider an ordinance regulating the use of pedicabs, or a bicycle taxi. Specifically, the ordinance, if approved, would prohibit pedicabs from operating on the Beach Bike Path. Further, pedicabs would be required to have a business license, similar to taxicabs.

“The proposed regulations would require pedicab companies to obtain an operating permit and pedicab vehicle permits to ensure that minimum equipment and signage standards are met,” City staff stated in a report. “Pedicab drivers would also be required to obtain permits to ensure qualifications were met.”

The proposed ordinance also subjects pedicabs to honoring the “rules of the road.”

According to City staff, pedicabs are already prohibited from operating on the Pier or the Third Street Promenade.

“Pedicab rules and regulations would be enforced by Code Enforcement staff and ‘rules of the road’ would be enforced by Police Department staff,” City staff stated. “Pedicabs … cannot impede the flow of traffic or use transit lanes.”

If passed, pedicab operators would be required to pay certain fees. For example, operators would have to pay $195 for new or renewed permits, while a new pedicab vehicle decal would cost $112. Pedicab drivers would be required to pay $95 for new or renewed permits.

Also on the April 9 agenda: City staff proposes an ordinance that would lower monthly parking rates for downtown residents who are disabled.

“[City] staff is proposing to charge the lowest rate generally available to Downtown residents, currently $65 per month, to persons with disabled placards that reside in buildings with no onsite parking within the Downtown core,” the City staff report to council members stated.

Currently, downtown residents, including those who are disabled and have a placard, have three options for monthly parking: on-site parking provided by building owner; parking in City-owned downtown parking structures for $160 per month; or, parking at the Civic Center for $65 per month.

The April 9 agenda also includes a council member discussion item seeking to authorize City staff to “to explore options for creating a ‘high affordability housing’ requirement as part of the [Bergamot Area] Plan.”

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