Food trucks will soon be able to operate legally on the streets of Oakland.

Last night, the city council approved a pilot program that would permit trucks to sell food during regular hours in locations in districts 1, 2, 3 and 4 (that’s most of north, west and downtown Oakland, and just east of Lake Merritt).

Photo: Caitlin Esch, KQED

Last Friday night some food trucks were shut down as they served crowds at downtown Oakland’s Art Murmur. Food trucks gather at the event every month, though in most cases it’s illegal. Last night’s council action will allow vendors to be able to apply for permits to work at such large, public events.

Councilwomen Rebecca Kaplan and Jane Brunner drafted the proposal. Kaplan said because food trucks are already operating on the streets of Oakland they should be regulated.

“The goal really is to create the permit system, so that people don’t get punished for not having gotten a permit that they couldn’t even have gotten,” Kaplan said. “We’ll be able to know that they have their county health inspection and that the food is safe and our entrepreneurs will know they have a permit and they wont get in trouble.”

But some restaurant owners worry the regulations don’t go far enough. Founder of the Oakland Restaurant Association Mark Everton says some fear trucks will set up near restaurants and offer similar fare at cheaper prices.

“If you’re at a street corner and you look to your left and there’s the restaurant you intended to go to and you look to your right and there’s a food truck. Well, there’s an opportunity for you not to go to the restaurant and go to the food truck,” he said.

The Fruitvale neighborhood already has its own food vendor system. The East Oakland districts represented by Councilmembers Desley Brooks and Larry Reid are not included in the program.

“I think it takes business away from restaurants who are just on the border of being able to turn a profit,” Reid said.

The pilot program will stay in effect in until the council adopts a permanent policy in 2012.

Food Trucks to Operate Legally in Oakland 7 December,2011Caitlin Esch

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