Local government, ladies and gentlemen.
(1) Oakland police crackdown of food vendors at Art Murmur - plea for action by LIBA Falafel
Last Friday night the Oakland Police Department sent out officers to shut down vendors at Oakland’s monthly Art Murmur, an event that has traditionally welcomed a variety of vendors and people. The officers immediately shut down those vendors who did not have permits to serve on the streets of Oakland. No trucks did, for reasons I’ll explain shortly. LIBA Falafel was one of those trucks issued a ticket to appear in court, where I’m told the City Administrator will assess a fine.
As a resident of Oakland, I consider Art Murmur a reflection of everything I love about this town. People of all ages and ethnicities fill the streets and pour in and out of galleries to look at artwork as new exhibits debut. People are on foot, on bicycle, in their art cars. Art Murmur has spread northward from downtown Oakland since LIBA has been parked in front of Warehouse 416 on 26th Street. It fills me with great pride to see residents and visitors comfortable, safe, and excited to occupy the streets during the event.
What happened is particularly frustrating to me (and others who operate food trucks in Oakland), because there is no permit process which would allow me to operate. When food trucks call the City of Oakland to inquire about how to get permission, we’re informed that permits can only be issued for food trucks within the Fruitvale corridor. Outside Fruitvale, food trucks can operate in a “complaint-based” way. Meaning, if it doesn’t bother anyone, it can be done – but there is no permit for it. I’ve operated on 26th Street with a comfortable degree of confidence for both this reason, and because the gallery I’m in front of (Warehouse 416) invites me to be there and support their gallery openings during Art Murmur. The gallery counts on my business to help bring customers to their artists’ shows each month; this month’s show alone featured over 35 local artists and hundreds of patrons.