Sushi chef Ryuta Hamazaki of Fishlips Sushi creates fast sushi dishes for people waiting at the food truck stop on 14th Street and Santa Monica Boulevard Monday afternoon. (photo by Brandon Wise)

14TH STREET — For one shining day in January 2010, gourmet food trucks filled a normally vacant lot on 14th Street at Santa Monica Boulevard.

Hundreds of hungry patrons arrived to enjoy their edible wares, and owner Steve Taub planned to make the court a regular, if not daily, fixture on the property.

Within 24 hours, City Hall’s code enforcement officers shut the party down, saying that it violated zoning codes to sell food there.

As of July 17, however, the food truck lot is back in action.

That Sunday, while the rest of Los Angeles is in the throes of “Carmageddon,” the kitschy name given to the closing of a large portion of Interstate 405, Santa Monicans can not only indulge in the fruits of eight such trucks, they can do so to support a good cause.

Taub, who plans to open the lot nearly all day each Sunday, is handing over the reins to the group Partners in Progress, a volunteer organization that is helping to raise money to cure cancer.

It will be the first time since he was shut down in 2010 that a food truck event will take place on the lot, despite the fact that Taub received a permit from City Hall to operate the lot as a food truck court on a trial basis.

The permit, which costs $954, was part of an effort by planners to gauge what kind of impacts food court lots would have on the surrounding neighborhoods and businesses.

Key to that was traffic, trash and noise concerns.

To solve those issues, planners built provisions into the permits that required three trash cans per court, provided parking and an on-site restroom.

The trucks also have to shut down operations by 9 p.m. and leave by 9:30 p.m. to avoid irritating neighbors.

The permits were not as popular as planning staff thought they would be.

Only two were taken out, one for the 14th Street lot and one at the California Heritage Museum on Main Street, which holds a food truck court every Tuesday night as a museum fundraiser.

Taub never used his, until now.

“We approved (a permit) there about six months ago, and the applicant never started it,” said Paul Foley, a planner with City Hall.

There’s no detailed explanation coming from Taub.

“It just wasn’t on my plate at the time,” he said. “I’m independent in what I think and do … In baseball, you play one ball game at a time when you try to get to the title. I take it one day at a time.”

Platitudes aside, the food court is back on Taub’s radar, and its first Sunday out of the gate will benefit the John Wayne Cancer Institute, which is based in Santa Monica.

The event, which will run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, is the second such food fundraiser the institute has thrown. Its first met with limited success, said Ryann Scott, the assistant director for special events at the institute.

“We had it in our parking lot because we thought it would be a good way to get people to the institute and learn more about us,” Ryann said. “But there’s no street access from Santa Monica Boulevard. The lot is in the back of our building.”

The result: No one could see the circled trucks from the street, and only people who knew about the event showed up.

Still, the institute managed to raise $4,000. This year, with a much more visible location, they hope that number will double or triple, Scott said.

Those who come will get a chance to win prizes and eat at prime food trucks. Those who donate at the door will also get two free tickets to the Laugh Factory comedy club.

In Sundays to come, Taub will be open for business as not-quite-usual. Food trucks will pay him rent for the day, and will be allowed to stay open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with a one-hour break between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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