The Associated Press is reporting that the Los Angeles County District Attorney has decided not to appeal Judge Denis Aichroth’s ruling in favor of the taqueros from September. While this would seem to be a victory, we hearing rumors that the state is planning on adding language to the vehicle code which would make this type of legislation easier to pass in the future. This vehicle code, which currently only permits the county to regultate the trucks for reasons of “public safety”, has been the crux of attorney Phil Greenwald’s defense. In the near term however, enjoy legal street tacos; I’ve got a feeling the county will be taking another run at this sooner rather than later. Stay tuned, and we’ll keep you updated.
Fellow Taco Lovers: We received the following statement from the attorney representing the East L.A. taqueros concerning the county’s latest attempt to enact it’s anti-truck legislation:
On Friday, September 19,2008, Judge Dennis Aichroth of the Los Angeles Superior Court, in Division One of the East Los Angeles Courthouse heard arguments from both side in the so called “TACO VENDOR ORDINANCE CASE.”
Previously, on August 27, 2008 Judge Aichroth had declared Los Angeles County Code Section 7.62.070 “unconstitutional” on various grounds, including ambiguous language, restraint of trade, not for the “public safety,” etc. The arguments on September 19th related to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office seeking to have the Judge reverse his decision. The motion made by the DA was for “Reconsideration” of the decision.
After granting the District Attorney the right to file certain “Declarations” by Deputies of the Sheriff’s Department, along with “Exhibits,” the Judge announced that he was NOT CHANGING HIS ORIGINAL ORDER of August 27th, holding Section 7.62.070 of the Los Angeles County Code UNCONSTITUTIONAL. The TACO VENDORS were represented by Attorney Philip C. Greenwald. The DA was represented by Deputy DA Steven L. Gates.
The Vendors have won an important victory in their quest to be permitted to sell in the unincorporated territories of Los Angeles County without having to move every 30 or 60 minutes a distance of one half mile during every 3 hour period.
The District Attorney’s Office now has the option of filing a notice of appeal, which it is reported will likely occur between now and September 26th. That date is the last day such a notice can be given. The Los Angeles Times, among other members of the press, had taken the position, from the moment that the subject ordinance was enacted on April 15, 2008, by the County Board of Supervisors, that it was bad legislation which needed to be “repealed.”
The Sheriff’s Department has not been enforcing Section 7.62.070 since August 27th when Judge Aichroth issued his ruling that the ordinance was “unconstitutional.” The Taco Vendors (as well as all other street vendors) are overjoyed by the recent action of Judge Aichroth.
In short, the county loses again but isn’t ready to admit defeat. We’ll keep you updated as this continues to play out.
Earlier this year, our petition received some bitter posts from someone using the handle “The Real East Los.” The poster said, among other things,
“Wow, look at all these outsiders thinking they know what’s best for us poor brown folks. Twice a year they put down their quiche and lobster bisque to come slummin’ in the Eastside for some tacos - except those of you who stop by more often after scoring some weed in the projects. […] All you uppity white folks can get back in your Range Rovers and head to the Westside for some goat cheese pizza and creme brulee — and let us Mexicans work this out.”
“This policy affects ONLY UNINCORPORATED AREAS OF THE COUNTY. About 99% of you who signed on are outsiders who slum in the Eastside every once in a great while. This policy applies to taco trucks EAST of Indiana St. […] Most of you gringos don’t venture this far into the Eastside anyway. You can still drive over the bridge, score some weed, get some tacos, and head safely back home before the big bad brown folks get you.”
There’s a lot to say about these comments, but the obvious points are these: Clearly “The Real East Los” is well versed with the law, and quite familiar with the specifics of where the county/city line is.
Now, there’s also something much less obvious about this post that we noticed. Every time a comment is posted, the IP address (essentially a unique internet ID) is noted. Interestingly, the IP address (126.96.36.199) for the two posts is registered to the County of Los Angeles.
Stay with me, because it gets better.
In April, somebody took the time to post a section about the controversy on Gloria Molina’s Wikipedia page. On September 10th, the entire “Controversy” section was wiped out, white-washed like a mural in the Arroyo Seco. Fortunately, Wikipedia also notes the IP address of anybody who makes a change to an article. Want to guess the address responsible for this change?
That’s right, the exact same eleven digits: 188.8.131.52.
On several occasions, going back to December, Gloria Molina’s page has had any section regarding controversy (tacos or murals) erased by somebody at the same address. Furthermore, this same IP address has changed passages to the articles of fellow supervisors Mike Antonovich, Don Knabe, and the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors article.
In all fairness, it’s impossible for us to identify any specific county office, official, or department responsible for these racially loaded posts and Orwellian Wikipedia edits. Nevertheless, this underscores the absolute necessity that we avoid complacency and insist our elected officials represent the majority over the “Big Taco” minority.
Apparently closing emergency rooms, disastrous public transportation, and overcrowded jails are on the backburner while the county refuses to give up on an unpopular and illegal piece of legislation. The supervisors’ poorly written law was thrown out of court recently not only because it violated state law, but also for being “ambiguous” and a “naked restraint of free trade”, in the words of judge Dennis Aichroth. Nevertheless, our elected representatives are going to appeal Judge Aichroth’s ruling in a hearing set for September 19th. Supervisor Molina recently released a reaction to the judges ruling saying in part, “the residents I represent have continually made clear to me [that] catering truck regulation remains a top priority”, and she promises to “continue to fight for them”.
The domain www.saveusfromtacotrucks.org has yet to be purchased, and comments on our site are running about 500 to 1 in favor of the trucks. Thus, I am left to assume that the supervisors are covering their eyes and plugging their ears in the hopes that this storm will pass. They are depending on our apathy to let them run unchecked over one of the most unique aspects of LA culture. Stay involved! We are garnering national media attention and it is imperative to keep the pressure on. Insist that our elected representatives advocate for all of our interests, rather than those of the politically well connected few.
Let me use a recent trip to Spain and Morocco to illustrate. Madrileño food is terrible. Don’t get me wrong, I had some good meals there, but had to spend $40 per person to get it. Anything fast and cheap was either of the American fast food ilk, or disgusting tapas in the form of greasy fried cod or deep-fried cheese croquettes. A quick flight accross the Straight of Gilbraltar took us to an entirely different culinary culture. The highlight of Morocco was Marrakesh’s bustling Djema El Fna which filled with carts serving soups, grilled meats, teas, pastries, and even some more exotic dishes. About $7 was enough to stuff yourself, share a table with some new friends, and enjoy the scene of thousands of people out to enjoy the evening. While Madrid can provide a civic model in many ways for Los Angeles, (a highly efficient mass transit system for one) a few lonely immigrants selling prepackaged sandwiches and a few drinks on cardboard boxes late at night are a miserable expression of the culinary heritage of a country. New York has its hot dogs and pizza, and we should have our tacos.
We’ve been collecting photos of street food from Los Angeles and beyond for a few months, and will continue to do so as a celebration of world-class food. Keep emailing your submissions to email@example.com, and don’t forget to tell us where the picture was taken and what it is you’re eating. Enjoy!
It’s a great day to stand on the side of hardworking Angelenos, fair capitalistic competition, and delicious food. Today in Los Angeles Superior Court, Judge Dennis Aichroth ruled in favor of our hardworking taqueros stating in part that the recently enacted law effectively banning taco trucks was “too ambiguous to be enforceable” and was “arbitrary and not based upon any rational, intrinsic or natural basis”. Furthermore, Judge Aichroth agreed with an argument we’ve championed from the beginning, writing, “this attempt to restrict the operation of catering trucks […] is a pretext for creating a “naked restraint of trade” and, as such, must be declared invalid”. In short, Gloria Molina and her developer backed cabal of myopic gentrificationists have lost. The people of Los Angeles have won.
While we would like to declare the “big taco” bureaucrats down and out for good, we unfortunately must temper our joy with the realization that this may only be round one. The county can still appeal this decision, or rewrite the law in an attempt to stay within their constitutionally limited legislative powers. So then, what’s a socially active taco lover to do?
1. Write your Supervisor urging them to stop legislating taco trucks out of business. Their email addresses can be found here.
2. Take someone unfamiliar with the taco truck lifestyle out for a night of unforgettably delicious food. $3 should buy you two tacos, a drink, and a political ally for life.
While we may lack the money of the business groups and restaurant owners associations that backed this misguided law, we still carry the votes necessary to put these politicians in their posh offices and wield a bright spotlight which they’d rather not have shined on their political handouts. (Especially those who have built their careers on an image of championing the working class, Latinos, and/or the fair market.)Keep up the good work and know that you are on the right side of history.
We received a brief note from Juan Torres, owner of Tacos El Galuzo, updating us on the situation with the new laws in East Los Angeles. Sr. Torres is the president of the Associacion de Loncheras L.A. Familia Unida de C.A., a group that is organizing a legal fight against the new law. While he has yet to be cited, Sr. Torres’ group is planning to attend the July 23rd court date of Alejandro Valdovino’s and his three citations he received for his truck, La Flor de Sahuayo. We’ll keep you updated as well as we can while on vacation.
We’ll continue to update this page as readers submit more photos. If you have your own pics of street food, whether in San Diego or Bombay, email the photos to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d especially love it if you wear one of our shirts!
Joey A. sends this in from Kolkata, India:
“This is Raj Kachori, my favorite street food ever! A large puri (that brown shell in the bowl) all crushed up with boiled potatoes, dried noodles, curd, tamarin chutney, spicy chutney, and a bunch of spices.”
Chris C. sends these in from Bali…
Sate grill, ready to be fired up.
Sate guy. a little camera shy
Sate ayam! (chicken)
And these from Bangkok…
Phad Thai Lady in Bangkok
Phad Thai wok, making the egg crepe wrapper
Jerry B. sent in his favorite Cabeza cart in Cabo. (Looks like he’s a little early)
Listen for Chris on the Zocalo LA program “Remember the Taco Truck” this Sunday night on KPCC.
This summer projects to be quite a busy one. Travel, waking up at noon, and procrastinating on getting a gym membership take up a lot of time (The taco truck crusade has taken a toll on my waistline). On a recent trip to Thailand, however, I had some fun avoiding Rama’s Revenge while enjoying ridiculously cheap eats. When two friends bicycling through Italy sent me a photo of an Italian Taco Truck (that looks to have been selling ham) I got the idea to encourage submissions of street vendors any of you might encounter while out of LA. Email you photos and a description to email@example.com we’ll post whatever strikes our fancy. (Extra credit if you’re wearing your ‘Carne Asada is not a Crime’ Tshirt.) Let’s help spread a little of the cultural vibrancy that is street food, and maybe give budding entrepreneurs a few fresh ideas. Now as promised:
Adjacent to the Patpong Night Market, I wait in line behind a Bangkok Bar Girl for a quick meal.
Noodles, Pork, and Shrimp Balls for about a buck.
Villagio Artegiano, Italy (Outside Parma):
No description was submitted but he looks to be selling ham, bread, cheese, and beer.
Thanks to some observant posters and our friends over at californiatacotrucks.com, we’ve been made aware of the first victim of GloMo’s new persecution of our beloved trucks. Alejandro Valdovino’s was cited for not moving his truck, La Flor de Sahuayo, from in front of his own restaurant. Mr. Valdovino has been charged with a misdemeanor and is facing a maximum $1,000 fine and/or 6 months in jail. The defenders of the new law have largely whined about trucks parking in front of their restaurants and poaching their business. Unless Mr. Valdovino complained about himself to the sheriff, I’m not sure exactly what the logic is behind this action. I am out of town for the weekend and won’t be able to look at the neighborhood until Sunday at the earliest, but in looking at Google Street View, the only businesses that seem to be even remotely in competition with La Flor de Sahuayo are a bakery, gas station store, and a run-down delicatessen. We’ll check it out soon and publish the contact information for any restaurants in the direct vicinity. Feel free to phone them and let them know that they can’t anonymously hide behind Mrs. Molina and have the sheriff push their competition out of business.
What else can we do? Well, the District 2 Board of Supervisor’s seat is up for grabs as Yvonne Burke (who voted in favor of this law) is retiring. We’ve contacted all the candidates involved and so far Dr. Delaney Smith and Antonio Alvarez have responded indicating various degrees of support for the trucks. (Mr. Alvarez’s was by far the most energetic). We’ll keep you updated, but we are tentatively promoting these two candidates as running a pro-taco campaign.
On the other end of the spectrum appears to be Bernard Parks. Parks is currently a member of the city council and previously served as chief of the LAPD. Seeing as his campaign statement boasts of endorsements Burke and Molina, Parks appears to be aligning himself with the status-quo and what we jokingly refer to around here as “big-taco”.
We should also note that we had been getting anecdotal evidence of increasing harassment in the city of Los Angeles. On Thursday, after the Zocalo event that will be aired on KPCC Sunday night, we saw it with our own eyes. The organizers arranged for a taco truck to serve free food to the audience afterwards. A local business complained and the LAPD showed up and gave the truck 15 minutes to move. The only restaurant I saw in the area was Mariscos Ensenada on Spring St., but he was closing. Pay attention as a day without a taco truck is approaching sooner than later.