Concessions in Parks (Again)

Eric Jaye's picture

 

The San Francisco Examiner reports again on “neighbors” being irked by food concessions in local parks.

http://www.sfexaminer.com/local/2011/02/dolores-park-coffee-stand-food-cart-irks-neighbors

As the article points out, it is not really neighbors who make most of the noise but local businesses that fear competition.

These concessions create jobs. This particular concession is actually part of a jobs incubator program. And more than that – they create safer and better parks. One of the best ways to make a park safe is to make sure there is always some responsible individual there keeping an eye on things. With cutbacks, we have been losing park staff. These concessions put “eyes on the street” that do make the parks safer. They also create a small amount of revenue for the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, but that’s really just the icing on the cake.

I wish the Rec and Park staff would push back with some basic retail theory here. Safer and better parks make a neighborhood a more attractive place to visit and shop. These concessions don’t cost the local merchants business – they create more business. 

Kate Maeder's picture

Food in Dolores Park

Sounds like a win-win. Create jobs, increase revenue and conveniently grab slow-roasted pork tacos while you're enjoying an afternoon at the park.

There's a whole underground street food movement in San Francisco (http://www.sfstreetfoodfest.com/) - and people love the opportunity to grab delicious small bites wherever. Why can't these hardworking, small businesses set up where the people are?

With unemployment so high, people are finding more creative ways to earn revenue to pay rent, pay bills and sustain a San Francisco lifestyle. What we should be doing is encouraging more and more people to think outside the box and find innovative ways to make a living - and if it happens to be cooking their favorite dishes and selling them at a low price - then I'm all for it.

And I really doubt the cart's presence causes that much "noise"...

SophieT's picture

LA faces the same problem

Los Angeles is currently facing the same problem with the number food trucks skyrocketing in the past year. ericjaye you're right that the "noise" is from local businesses not neighbors. The number of people who follow these food trucks on their websites and twitter or frequent the food trucks that have permanent locations is massive. The food trucks are profitable and have created many jobs in tough economic times.

As the article points out, the Blue Bottle Coffee Co. (one of my favorites) was stopped from setting up a truck in Dolores Park to avoid competition between the proposed truck and the Dolores Park Cafe. Chaac Mool is not competing with the in park cafe for the same customer base because it offers different option, pork tacos, not coffee.

Also, our society is built on capitalism. Is healthy competition not in line with those principles? I'm all for supporting local businesses, so instead of complaining about having a food truck, why don't people focus attention on eliminating Chipotle or Starbucks, not Chaac Mool and Blue Bottle Coffee Co.?

Phil Ting's picture

Food Truck Fill a Void

Food trucks do well in neighborhoods for two main reasons: 1) the food is good and people are willing to pay for it and 2) there is not enough comparable food in the area.  If a food truck is popular it is usually because the food is good and at the right price.  While I know competitors would like to banish these trucks to stop the competition, San Franciscans are better off because they have more choices.  

Everyone at City Hall has come to know the taco parked in a half empty parking lot one block off Civic Center.  During lunch time, there are usually lines for the burritos and tacos because the food is good, convenient and the price is reasonable.  If the food was not good, people wouldn't eat there.

We should encourage more food trucks as long as they follow the rules.  The City wins and San Franciscans win.

Paid for by Phil Ting for Assembly 2012. FPPC ID# 1343137