by Jesse Hirsch
Despite operating on a private lot, a small rotating food truck market at 21st Street and Webster was shut down last week by the City of Oakland. A $2,000 fine was levied on Hisuk Dong, owner of the event’s vacant lot space (he also owns nearby Mua).
DanVy Vu, owner of the Streatery food truck, ran this erstwhile popular food truck event. Too tiny to really be called a food pod, 21Web brought in just one truck for two hours each weekday at lunch. “We were so small, and we were operating on private property, so I thought the city was going to leave us alone,” said Vu, who launched the event in October.
The official reason for shutting down 21Web was the lack of a permit to sell fast food, Vu said. The vacant parcel was zoned for cafes but evidently someone in City Hall didn’t think that was sufficient. Vu suspects this smackdown was the direct result of a complaint from neighbors. Though there are few restaurants in the immediate vicinity of 21st and Webster, large office complexes like Kaiser Permanente have their own food-service facilities.
“I think one of those cafeterias felt threatened and called in a complaint,” Vu said. “If it hadn’t been a fast food permit, the city probably would have found some other issue.”
Gail Lillian was about to park her Liba Falafel truck at 21Web for the first time when the event was shut down. Lillian, who helped develop Oakland’s recently approved interim food pod ordinance, said a lot of her customers have been asking, “Why does Oakland hate food trucks?”
“I don’t think it’s a matter of hate,” she said. “I just don’t think the city can get it together. They don’t want to keep food trucks out, but they don’t have a leader who knows how to keep us in.”
In related news, another lunchtime food truck pod recently launched on a private Uptown lot. Shoot me an email if you’d like to know the location before its near-inevitable closure. Officially sanctioned food pod events will likely not commence before March.
Comments? Tips? Get in touch at Jesse.Hirsch@EastBayExpress.com.