AB 1678: Not Good for California

Please start by signing our petition:  http://tinyurl.com/AB1678

On February 14, 2012 Assemblymember Bill Monning (Carmel) introduced AB 1678, which would prohibit mobile vending 1500 feet from an elementary or secondary school from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.  This Bill is flawed in many respects.  If enacted, the Bill would decimate the burgeoning mobile food industry without addressing the author’s concerns in any significant manner.   In many California cities, more than 80 percent of the public right of ways are within 1500 feet of a school.  Without suitable areas to operate a large number of mobile restaurants will be forced out of business.  Yet, even with food trucks out of business, children will have plenty of access to “unhealthy” food.  Even if one accepts the Author’s claim that students on closed campuses leave school to obtain unhealthy food, the Bill will do nothing to curb this alleged threat.  The Bill  does not purport to ban the sale of any particular type of food.  So fast food restaurants, convenience stores, and gas station stores will continue to operate within the restricted area offering all manner of “unhealthy” food.

In the last three years mobile vending has become one of the fastest growing trends in food service.  Restauranteurs have taken to the streets to deliver a wide variety of cuisines.  The mobile food facility is merely a delivery system used to service the public.  Many trucks pride themselves on providing organic healthy meals that come straight from the farmer’s market.  Even the trucks that do not promote their cuisines as health food often use only high quality ingredients in their food’s preparation.  This Bill does not differentiate between cuisines, only the delivery mechanism used by a restauranteur to serve the public.  Imagine the Bill had banned all restaurants with a drive through window from operation within 1500 feet of a school.  Healthy restaurants that wanted to service the public and provide a quick take out option would be prohibited from doing so just because of a service practice.  This Bill does not ban unhealthy food, it bans a service mechanism.
The Bill’s attempt to make a statewide prohibition to address local issues simply makes no sense.  A number of Cities and Counties already have rules prohibiting mobile vendors from operating near schools while in session.  Local school districts have rules prohibiting students from leaving campus.  The Author fails to make any showing as to why the State should make these broad legislative decisions when the local authorities already have the power to do so.  If enacted this Bill would even restrict schools from holding food truck fundraisers on campuses.

California is in the middle of any unprecedented financial crisis.  However, instead of using our limited legislative resources in an efficient manner, this Bill would put thousands of people out of work without actually addressing the issue of childhood obesity.  The Author claims to know what is best for every county, city, town, and school in the entire state.  This Bill will be defeated because Californians are smart enough to know there are better ways to address these issues without damaging an entire industry.

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