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California

Monrovia to lift ban on food trucks

Monrovia’s Old Town, a quaint neighborhood of eateries and shops that hosts a weekly street fair with live music, long has been a social destination. But for the last two years, the historic area was under a strict city ordinance: No food trucks allowed.

That ban will be lifted, according to an agreement between the city and the SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Assn., which filed a suit against the city last year.

A 1984 amendment to a state law prohibits cities from outlawing mobile food vendors, although many continue to keep outdated ordinances on the books, said Jeffrey Dermer, an attorney for the association.

Monrovia, however, passed new restrictive legislation about mobile food vendors in 2010 that appeared aimed at protecting favored interests — namely, merchants in Old Town, he said.

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“They decided to change what we view as illegal laws to a whole bunch of new illegal laws,” Dermer said late last week.

Mayor Mary Ann Lutz said city officials believed they had done nothing wrong but decided to settle to avoid going to trial.

“It made more sense financially for us,” Lutz said. “I think it’s important to say that we never said food trucks could not come to our community; we were just trying to find a way where they could cohesively exist in our community.”

Councilman Tom Adams said it was unfortunate that the association had filed a lawsuit when the city just wanted to create a “level playing field” in Old Town.

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“If you can drive in during peak hours and take advantage of brisk business and then leave, you have an advantage over someone who stays there in good times and in bad,” Adams said. “It’s called cherry picking.”

The City Council still needs to approve the agreement in open session.

The Mobile Food Vendors Assn. has also filed suits against Arcadia, City of Industry, South Pasadena and West Hollywood.

“We’ve been trying to work with cities, and there’s been many that have engaged with us and gone through the process of changing their laws,” Dermer said. “But when there’s no progress, you have to resort to a lawsuit.”

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corina.knoll@latimes.com


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