Food Truck Trend Could Roll Into Downtown

The Watsonville City Council will consider allowing food trucks to ring the City Plaza on Friday and Saturday nights.

Weekend nights in downtown could get a lot livelier if the Watsonville City Council approves a proposal to let food trucks park on Peck Street.

The council will consider opening one block of parking Peck Street along the City Plaza to food trucks from 9 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays.

Councilman Oscar Rios asked city staff to work up the plan that would massively expand the food truck market in Watsonville. Currently, the mobile restaurants are only allowed to serve food on private, industrially zoned property, and cannot stay beyond 10 minutes at the same location.

Food trucks have grown beyond the roach coaches and taco trucks that started appearing in the 1950s. Gourmet food trucks serve ethnic or fusion cuisine and, thanks to social media, have die-hard followings.

Carmona's BBQ Deli runs a food truck in Watsonville that visits several high schools and businesses daily. The popular truck even caters private events and weddings.

Food trucks have become a fanatical thing in the region. A weekly food truck meet-up on Wednesdays in Milpitas draws tons of loyal customers.

Food trucks generally have been met with good reviews. An article Watsonville city staff pulled for the city council to review noted few problems in Raliegh, NC, after eight months of permitting food trucks downtown.

If approved, food trucks would be allowed beginning Oct. 5, so long as the owners submit a simple application to the Parks and Community Services Department showing that they have a Watsonville Business License.

In addition to the food truck discussion, the city council will consider a proposal to spend $93,000 to improve the fueling station at the Watsonville Airport and review the 2030 General Plan.

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Eye B. Tender September 25, 2012 at 05:43 AM
But Hector, my local comments are always about the sins of Watsonpatch's non representative BIG local Gov. Besides, I got no money to spend anywhere these days since those dirty local politicians kicked me out of my home town - for my "sin" of effectively bringing nice people to spend a lot of money in your (our) town while not being ethnically correct and without first sucking up to City Hall for "support". Funny huh? But who are the real snobs? Nevertheless, good luck with the tacos. Meanwhile, I remember talking to the bakery owner on East Lake and Hill a few years back. He was complaining to me about all the local competition in local Mexican bakeries. "why can't they ever approve something else". He's since been forced out of business in Watsonville too. Must have forgotten to pay somebody off, eh? Big crooked racist government choosing the winners and losers in local private business. Sweet for the insiders though, huh?
Lucas September 25, 2012 at 06:29 AM
Next it will be roses and homemade tamales.
Hector Rodriguez September 25, 2012 at 07:54 AM
@Eye B. Tender I'm going to tell you something. Specially in the food trade, bad food has a lot to do with the success of the food place. Businesses owners tend to blame their failure to "competition" when in reality it's their own fault. If you make good bread, pan dulce, etc... People will keep coming back to your bakery, but if a new bakery comes along and makes even better bread then guess what's going to happen? People will go to the new bakery. I mean, when people wants good quality they don't mind where and how they can get it. For example, I don't mind to drive all across town to fill my water bottles at Ojo de Agua on E. Lake. Even when I have a Water Mill a block away from my house. The same goes to hamburgers when I want to eat one. I don't mind to drive to Gilroy to In & Out or to Santa Cruz to Betty Burgers. What other options do we have besides all the McDonalds, Burger Kings, Jack in the Box, Wendy's and all the other big chain restaurants? Seriously, if we want to get better options, then we need some competition... That's why Watsonville has been in this loop, people complains too much and don't offer solutions. Blaming govt does nothing good if the people takes no action. Just look at all the comments here, the most people objecting this proposition have not presented a different approach beside vague responses. We can't have real progress like this.
David H. Perez September 25, 2012 at 12:33 PM
I can't believe all of the uproar about having a few catering trucks parking downtown. I agree with one commentor that those push carts we see around town are pretty annoying, as well as being accosted in parking lots by people selling roses, or tamales out of the trunk of their car. But catering trucks are a completely different thing, and Hector Rodriguez' comment was correct that catering trucks have to have a license and permit, and meet health department standards. Catering trucks have come a long way, and in areas like Eugene, Oregon and Portland, Oregon where I have frequented, catering truck "parks" have become quite upscale. When I worked in downtown San Jose for a number of years, I enjoyed frequenting a catering truck that sold a lot of Asian specialties, as well as great tacos. I have two concerns with this idea in Watsonville. First, considering the problems with gangs and crime around town, I would not see myself out between 9 P.M. and midnight. Secondly, I would like to see this idea promote REAL diversity by making cuisine available from a lot of different cultures (Thai, Vietnamese, Chinese, Indian, Filipino, etc.) rather than strictly Latino food. I would also be more likely to be a customer if these trucks were around in daylight areas.
randy September 25, 2012 at 02:16 PM
David Perez, I agree. Mr. Rodriquez read things into my post that was not my intent. A truck goes to the Bingo at the catholic church. Why don't the city make some money on this and issue permits to those waiting a space. Stipulations would be that it is the responsibility of the trucks to clean the area upon leaving. A way for the city to make sure everything is above board and guarantee a place for each that have a permit. BTW Rodriquez, my favorite truck is Carmona's (sp). David, I agree about variety, would love a Japanese truck. Thai food or Vietnamese food is wonderful also. Now for this question, would I be there for support. Probably not as I have no reason to go down town. Very rarely am I down town. I was went Gottschalk's was there. In fact, I was there way too much. Randy stating his EARLY MORNING opinion.
Cathy P. September 25, 2012 at 03:27 PM
@Hector: sure it could work in Watsonville. Hopefully our current city council will realize the value of food trucks and the life that food trucks can bring to the streets and vote to give them a try. Food vendors can attract foot traffic to downtown and add a festive, people-oriented feel that can improve public safety. This seems like a win-win for downtown retail businesses overall. Food trucks are a perfect example of a free-market reflection of creativity and culture. Let's give it a try!
Steve Bankhead September 25, 2012 at 03:33 PM
I have no major objection to the downtown food trucks idea, as long as they're never allowed to operate there until El Alteno, Mansion House New China Buffet and other permanent restaurants have closed. But I thought there was a clause in the original 1860 land grant of the Plaza property to the city by Don Sebastian Rodriguez included restrictions against ever using the land for commercial or political purposes. If so, reports that the plan would allow the trucks to set up dining tables in the Plaza for their customers would seem to violate any existing commercial restriction, and I hope the council assures that's no problem. Of course, any such ban against using the Plaza for political purposes was outrageously violated by Luis Alejo in 2010 when he attempted to rename the Plaza after his political supporter Dolores Huerta, so perhaps all rules and promises on the issue are already out the window.
Cathy P. September 25, 2012 at 03:33 PM
@Lucas: nah, we've already got them at Kmart (lol). Seriously, food truck vending offers a point of entry to the economy and a way for those independent folks to learn the food service industry. Why couldn't it work in Watsonville? Then they'd be subject to licensing and paying taxes like all the legitimate businesses in town.
Cathy P. September 25, 2012 at 03:53 PM
I don’t think anyone is advocating for a food truck to park outside the door of a restaurant. What’s the difference between the food vendors at the Farmer’s Market dishing up food except for the food being cooked and served out of a truck? I have personally gone to nearby restaurants for a drink or a meal after attending the Watsonville Farmer’s Market or other food truck festivals like they have in San Jose; it is not an uncommon experience. I know if I had a business downtown, I sure wouldn’t mind all that foot traffic walking past my door!
Jennifer Olds September 25, 2012 at 04:04 PM
Oh Steve, don't even get me started on the B.S. trouble that Luis Alejo has started over the years...
Jennifer Olds September 25, 2012 at 04:14 PM
I don't have a problem (in theory) with the food trucks, and I have heard great things about their success in other areas. However, I would not personally go into town at night because I don't feel safe due to the gangs and criminals - not that they aren't out during the day too! I am concerned about the food trucks taking business away from the established restaurants, who have a much higher overhead, but in the end, they have a right to make a living too. The City just needs to make sure they are regulated.
Ramiro Medrano September 25, 2012 at 04:43 PM
Hey Bankhead, you supported the failed political photo-op in the plaza when Shriver came in with the excuse of promoting food stamps. "I hope you vote for my husband," she was heard saying. That was around the time when Schwarze-nazi was running for reelection. Hey David, traveling food vendors are a big part of Mexican indigenous culture. Guess what the majority of the population is composed of in Watsonville. If we're that annoying to you, maybe you should go somewhere else 'cause we sure are not. :) People selling tamales and flowers from their cars = struggling to make ends meet without having to mug you. You should be grateful for those tamales. Thumbs up to the food truck idea!
Hawkins September 25, 2012 at 05:21 PM
I rarely go downtown. What businesses are open from 9 - midnight that would benefit from the increased foot traffic that would presumably follow? If the ordnance caters primarily to drunks then it's a non-starter. However, if other businesses benefit from the increase in traffic then downtown could be revitalized. Increased police presence will be required. Who pays for that? I agree with someone's earlier comments, garbage is an issue. Maybe enforcing the law could be a way to fund the police presence w/out raising taxes - $1000 fine for littering.
David H. Perez September 25, 2012 at 05:24 PM
@Ramiro Medrano - "Hey David, traveling food vendors are a big part of Mexican indigenous culture. Guess what the majority of the population is composed of in Watsonville. If we're that annoying to you, maybe you should go somewhere else 'cause we sure are not." What the hell kind of statement is that??? First off, I AM of Mexican descent, so does that mean you think I am annoying myself? I have never said I think Mexicans should go somewhere else - where did you come up with that ridiculous delusion? I was simply suggesting that the food trucks carry a diverse variety of food, INCLUDING Mexican food. This may be a shock to you, but there are also people living in Watsonville who are not Mexican. And do Mexicans ONLY eat Mexican food? Funny, I regularly see Latinos at Miyuki Restaurant (Japanese), Bangkok West (Thai), Hong Kong Garden II (Chinese) and Cowboys Corner (American). I hear so many Latino groups in this area preach about diversity, but when someone like me suggests that we honor true diversity that includes EVERYBODY, some Latinos start crying racism and get their panties in a wad. As for your statement to me, get your facts straight and take your racist militant crap somewhere else!
David H. Perez September 25, 2012 at 05:27 PM
Rob, all good points. Frankly, I don't know why I am putting so much thought into this, since there is no way I would go downtown late at night anyway.
HizDesign September 25, 2012 at 05:40 PM
We already have roses and homemade tamales. The roses are gorgeous, and the tamales are so very tasty.....the 2 people in particular that I know of who sell the roses are working....walking all the heck around town carrying that 5-gallon bucket full of bunches of flowers isn't a job for the faint of heart. Tamales are good.it takes work to make them. So they don't hold your average 9-5 job....they work. :)
Cathy P. September 25, 2012 at 05:52 PM
@Rob: thanks for making me read the article a lot more closely. I missed the part "9 p.m. to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays." You're right, customers will primarily be the drunks leaving the downtown bars. Still, this is a good idea that needs some tweaking. I'd like to see some day time hours as well.
HizDesign September 25, 2012 at 05:55 PM
Some of these comments are really funny :) I am in favor of giving the whole food truck idea a try. Friday and Saturday NIGHTS people! 9PM-12MIDNIGHT! Responsiblility put on the vendors for cleaning up around their particular parking 'place' and a fine if it's left trashy. Licenses and Health standard stuff. Free market. Creativity. Culture (many different cultures hehe!) And yes! I like Carmona's! Who knows what other GREAT trucks might end up coming here! Cathy is right about adding a people-oriented, festive feel and contributing to the safety of our downtown, thus attracting more visitors, and OMG! a better reputation for Watsonville? OK, although this idea is currently talking about 9PM-Midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, (brace yourself! ) I can totally see it, if it works out well, expanding days and hours of operation in the future (I said 'future people :) ) to include some late afternoon/evening summer weekends and possibly weekdays....I'm for it.
Martin Enrique Garcia September 25, 2012 at 06:11 PM
I would sure love to read the 1860 Plaza Land Grant. Is that something available at the City Counter?
Jennifer Squires September 25, 2012 at 06:22 PM
Maybe ... or the library?
Cathy P. September 25, 2012 at 07:24 PM
@Martin: here's a link to a drawing of the actual land grant http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/hb138n99r1/?order=2 I'll try searching for some more of the actual correspondence ... the Watsonville Library does have a few books on the subject if you search the catalog under Bolsa del Pajaro.
Watzon McWats September 25, 2012 at 09:17 PM
Randy- I know at least one local food vendor personally who cooks out of their home kitchen. The county or whoever it is comes to their home and inspects it just like any regular business. Is that the norm? I dunno, but it is happening locally.
Watzon McWats September 25, 2012 at 09:25 PM
I agree with the notion that getting people out and about - increasing foot and human powered traffic is a solid way to take back Watsonville. Every person out and about enjoying themselves and their city is one more set of eyes with a cell phone. Crooks know this and tailor their business accordingly.
Martin Enrique Garcia September 25, 2012 at 10:00 PM
Thanks for the lead! I'm gonna check it out at the Watsonville Library right after I pay my late fees ;) @Cathy, how did you hear about this website? Do you use it often? Do you have other similar sites you visit for policy stuff? Pretty cool
Cathy P. September 25, 2012 at 10:16 PM
@Martin: yes I use this website quite extensively. Please check your Patch Profile email for for information...
Eye B. Tender September 25, 2012 at 10:44 PM
Working hard today for the Taxpayers Cathy P.? In truth, I'm in favor of the food trucks. Tasty food from private enterprise. But, what about City Hall's BS promise about their FIFTY TWO MILLION DOLLAR downtown palace "stimulating the downtown economy"? Oh, our "leaders" have their important names carved in brass above the front door. And, their filthy insider cronies have all that "old" government building space to SLIME AROUND IN. But come on kids. THAT'S NOT MUCH of a return on the poor sucker Taxpayers's massive investment.
Cathy P. September 25, 2012 at 11:15 PM
@Eye B. Tender: in case you are unaware, there are real laws protecting people from cyber harassment. And since I have every indication that you know where I work and possibly where I live, be warned that if you continue with your intentional and repeated, unsolicited personal attacks, I will report you to local law enforcement.
randy September 25, 2012 at 11:55 PM
right now on local channel the council is talking about it. WOW. I thought that the council voted DOWN the 4:30 meeting. what gives?
randy September 25, 2012 at 11:55 PM
Says on Peck St after 9:00 fri and sat.. only three months
Jennifer Squires September 26, 2012 at 07:06 AM
No food trucks, at least for awhile. http://watsonville.patch.com/articles/food-truck-plan-put-on-ice


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