Oakland's lunch trucks will have to hit the road soon, but they may not have to drive far.
City Councilman Bill Peduto is sponsoring a bill to create a "vending area" on DeSoto Street, between Fifth Avenue and O'Hara Street. The stretch of street, which currently has no parking meters, could be a new home for the soon-to-be-displaced trucks now parked in Schenley Parking Plaza.
The lot, next to Hillman Library, will make way for a planned city park. Lunch-truck owners have until the end of February to leave.
"I believe that council, when they understand that it won't take away parking, will be supportive," Peduto says of his bill, which keeps the trucks in his council district 8. It proposes the new truck location be used through June, so that the effects of the move can be observed, and perhaps later made permanent.
The spot, on a steep hill bordered by Children's Hospital, Western Psych, UPMC Presby and the Petersen Events Center, is not as conveniently located to the campus as Hillman. But, Peduto says, the hospitals would provide more consistent traffic throughout the year than the university, since hospitals don't empty out for the summer.
"We will get survival," says Vinay Patidar, whose truck, Kashmiri, has been at the Hillman location for six years. "I know that I'm going to lose some customers from CMU. I may get some from UPMC. Whatever they do, I guess we'll be all right."
The first of two council votes on Peduto's resolution is set for Wed., Feb. 23.
One of the main groups pushing to preserve the lunch trucks, college students, could represent an important young voting bloc, should Peduto enter the mayor's race as expected. But Peduto insists: "It's not a political issue. If I had never done anything for college students or the youth vote before, that argument could be made. The city had decided to turn its back and say, 'Tough luck.' I will not do that."