Editor’s note: This story is part of an ongoing series that tracks the second and final readings of ordinances approved by the City Council. Second readings are held without public comment, although the issues have been discussed, often at length, during prior City Council meetings.
CITY HALL — The City Council followed through on two ordinances Tuesday night that would regulate food and travel on Santa Monica’s streets.
With no discussion, council members heard and voted on an ordinance restricting the time and place that food trucks could sling their wares on Main Street, as well as a new regulatory system for pedicabs, which are human-powered taxis.
It’s not unusual for second readings to pass with merely an introduction and a roll call vote. Much more abnormal was the fact that the first ordinance, which banned food trucks from a portion of the city on weekends and on major holidays, passed the first time without verbal support or opposition from the public.
The ordinance, which will take effect in less than 30 days, extends a blanket ban on food trucks on Main Street between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. to include the half block between Marine Street and Santa Monica’s southern border with Los Angeles.
It also expands the prohibition to include eight major holidays that might fall on weekdays and were otherwise excluded from the first ordinance.
Those include New Year’s Day, Valentine’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Memorial Day, Independence Day, Labor Day and Cinco de Mayo.
Cinco de Mayo was originally omitted from the list, but later replaced Columbus Day.
The City Council banned food trucks between Ocean Park Boulevard and Marine Street on Saturdays and Sundays during those hours in November 2011 on advice from Santa Monica Police Department officials that the trucks caused often-intoxicated bar patrons to swarm on sidewalks, creating a safety hazard.
The trucks are some of the only food-providing businesses open at that hour on Main Street, and people leaving bars after last call would make a pit stop at the trucks, taking up sidewalk space, sitting on curbs and even running out into the street, SMPD Cap. Dan Salerno told the City Council on April 9.
“We’re fearful of a collision,” Salerno said.
People also had a tendency to forget themselves, leaving wrappers and food on the ground for others to slip on or vermin to eat, Salerno said.
After the original ordinance went into effect, safety officials saw an improvement except on holidays that fall on weekdays and are traditionally associated with alcohol consumption.
It also didn’t handle the half block between Marine Street and the border with Venice, which contains four parking spots that became prime real estate for food trucks, according to a report.
The expanded ordinance would fix those problems, Salerno told council members.
Councilmember Terry O’Day originally voted against the ordinance, but chose to vote with his colleagues on Tuesday.
Pedicab regulations, which dominated the April 9 meeting, also passed with nary a whimper.
Santa Monica officials had no way of controlling the human-powered taxis, which, by dint of being a bicycle, were allowed to operate on city streets without any restrictions.
Council members fearful of a “wild west” of the unwieldy vehicles on Santa Monica streets chose to approve what limitations they could, including a ban from the Beach Bike Path.
Pedicabs must also post their fares and have headlights, tail lights, turn signals, brakes, spoke reflectors and each of the passengers must be restrained by seat belts.
Drivers must be at least 18 years old and free of drug, driving under the influence or sex offense convictions. They must also have taken a bicycle safety training course, and have a decent driving history through the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Companies will also have to pay for permits to cover administrative costs, which Salvador Valles, business and operations manager with the city’s Finance Department, estimated at $2,950.
Future regulations may be in store if needed, council members warned.