ALAMEDA -- The Planning Board has adjusted the guidelines for food trucks in the city, but still wants to review the ordinance that allows the gatherings to find out just how much the trucks are impacting brick-and-mortar restaurants.

The board also wants to learn if support exists for allowing the trucks to gather in the Park Street neighborhood north of Lincoln Avenue as a way to help revitalize the area.

Food trucks already assemble every Saturday at Alameda South Shore Center and city officials say they have received no complaints about the event, which attracts an average of 1,400 people.

But Young Han Yee, the owner of Pearl's Deluxe Burgers, told the board on Tuesday that his sales drop at least 15 percent when the trucks are present.

"The food trucks are negatively impacting my business," Yee said. "I have made a huge capital investment at the mall to open this restaurant, and my Saturday sales have been suffering because of (the gatherings)."

Other restaurant owners also lose business when the trucks visit, he said. But Eric Fonstein, a development manager with the city, said an internal analysis in October by the center's management found its retailers experience "a significant increase in overall sales" during the events.

"It's been positive," Fonstein said.

On Tuesday, the board unanimously approved minor changes to the city's guidelines for the gatherings, including one that clears the way for the trucks to operate at more locations at the former Alameda Naval Air Station.


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The City Council adopted the guidelines in December 2011 so that the municipal code would comply with state law, which allows the trucks to set up on any public street as long as a vendor meets local safety requirements. The aim of having the local guidelines was to provide the city with extra control.

Along with adopting the changes Tuesday to help streamline the process for vendors, the board asked for a review of the overall ordinance to determine whether food trucks would enjoy support in other neighborhoods, especially near the Park Street Bridge and the Oakland-Alameda Estuary.

The board also called for more information on what kind of impact the gatherings actually have on restaurants and retailers, instead of just relying mostly on anecdotal evidence.

"We need to be able to look at this in terms of hard data," board member David Burton said.

The report on the ordinance is expected to come back before the board within the next several weeks, when the public can weigh in before any possible changes go before the City Council.

Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on at Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty.

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