Food Trucks vs. The Establishment: Attorney Jeffrey Dermer on the Legalities of Mobile Vending

"If freedom can't win over something so innocuous and where the benefits are so wide, then you can't win at all," says Jeffrey Dermer, a lawyer and founder of the Southern California Mobile Food Vendor's Association, a group devoted to protecting the legal rights of food truck operators.

Food trucks made news in California when a state assemblyman pushed forward a law that would've banned vendors from operating within 1,500 feet of a school. Popular backlash killed that ban, but other cities around the state are still trying to clamp down on food trucks. 

Dermer talked with Reason.tv about SCMFVA's suit against the city of Monrovia, which has enacted a de facto food truck ban, as well as the broader state of the food truck industry, which is often attacked by interest groups representing traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants, which claim that food trucks are unfair competitors.

"I don't think there's anything unfair about it. The problem is, your food isn't good enough," says Dermer.

Run time about 4 minutes.

Interview by Zach Weissmueller. Shot by Christopher Sharif Matar. Edited by Weissmueller.

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "If freedom can't win over something so innocuous and where the benefits are so wide, then you can't win at all," says Jeffrey Dermer...

    Well, guess what. You can't win at all. Cough up some bribe money next time, you cheap bastard.

  • Brian D||

    I originally read his name as Jeffrey Dahmer. Briefly brought a new meaning to the term 'food truck.'

  • plu1959||

    "Once people come to my truck, they never go anywhere else."

  • thirtyandseven||

    "Stop by for lunch! We'd love to have you."

  • IceTrey||

    All recipes straight out of "To Serve Man".

  • Rich||

    "You're too late. Everyone's eaten."

  • Suki||

    To Serve Man full episode.

  • ||

  • Malvolio||

    Wow. MySpace is still up. Who knew.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    No hop-ons! Especially for a joke I passed on because it was too obvious.

  • plu1959||

    I need this advice like I need a hole in the head.

  • R||

    "Special of the Day: Solyent Green"

    "Award winning author of 'How to Serve Man', the cookbook!"

  • Anacreon||

    I'm not sure I want to see a video about Jeffrey Dahmer and his food truck.

  • John||

    +100

  • Brian D||

    D'oh.

  • o3||

    dahmer & his food truck would be like motel hell meets chainsaw massacre. >as bismarck said, one should never see sausage, or food truck regs being made.

  • Suki||

  • Formerly Almanian||

    Jeffrey Dahmer eats people. Jeffrey Dermer eats foodtruck food.

    That's how I remember which is which.

  • IceTrey||

    Jeffrey Dahmer eats food made of people. Jeffrey Dermer eats food made for people. Funny how one little preposition can make such a big difference. LOL.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Hell, just a comma.

    Let's eat, Grandpa.
    Let's eat Grandpa.

  • Brutus||

    I have a better idea: Instead of fighting these rear-guard actions in perpetuity, why don't we geld the Commerce Clause and codify Lochner?

    Fuck defense, let's go on the attack.

  • ||

    Well, the Mariners got trounced last night. Oops.

  • Jeff Dermer||

    It has been awhile since anyone gave me the Dahmer haze. I used to get it from every grocery clerk who wanted to ID me.

    As far as mobile vending goes, I'm carving up and gobbling a-hole, crony-capitalist legislators for violating California's state law that restricts mobile vending regulation to "public safety" concerns.

    Monrovia is about to have some company on the cutting board.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    Give 'em hell!

  • thirtyandseven||

    Ever considered expanding from california?

    I've had this craving for parmesan Hatch lasagna lately. And perhaps some Durbin bacon on the side...

  • thirtyandseven||

    Dammit threading comments is hard.

    The above post is a reply to Jeff at 2:54PM.

  • Nooge.||

    Food trucks are the shit. I lived off of tacos from the Roach Coach when I was 18 and poor.

    OT: Look! A black guy shot a white guy after an ambiguous confrontation, and the black guy claims it was self-defense, and he has not been charged with any crime, and he still has the murder weapon.

    Listen! Hear all that outrage?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    OT: Look! A black guy shot a white guy after an ambiguous confrontation, and the black guy claims it was self-defense, and he has not been charged with any crime, and he still has the murder weapon.

    Listen! Hear all that outrage?

    Yes. Because the circumstances of each case are exactly the same, Mr. Tu Quoque.

  • Nooge.||

    The only circumstances that matter to the media and the race-hustling attention whores at the center of the shitstorm are that Martin was black and Zimmerman is not black. If you deny that, you are being obtuse, and if you don't see it, you are stupid.

    So, yeah, a black guy killed mentally handicapped white guy here. Would you even know about it if I hadn't linked it? Would you even fucking care?

    What if a white guy had killed a mentally handicapped black guy and called it self-defense? Would that have made your news feeds? Would you be all over that shit, Mr. Mulatto?

    Trayvon Martin's death breaks my heart- like every needless, pointless death- but the race-baiting and political pimping being done in his name is like shitting on his grave.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    The only circumstances that matter to the media and the race-hustling attention whores at the center of the shitstorm are that Martin was black and Zimmerman is not black. If you deny that, you are being obtuse, and if you don't see it, you are stupid.

    Two wrongs don't make a right.

    So, yeah, a black guy killed mentally handicapped white guy here. Would you even know about it if I hadn't linked it? Would you even fucking care?

    How many people were killed in Thailand's Pattani province, the home to the 2nd largest Islamic insurgency outside of Afghanistan? Could you even point to Pattani on a map? Do you even know about Juling Pongkanmul or the Kru Se Mosque?

    See, we can play concern troll all day.

    Trayvon Martin's death breaks my heart- like every needless, pointless death- but the race-baiting and political pimping being done in his name is like shitting on his grave.

    On this we agree.

  • Nooge.||

    Two wrongs don't make a right.

    No, they don't.

    See, we can play concern troll all day.

    I can find Thailand on a map; been there a few times. Probably not the province.

    Pointing out journalism's double standards isn't concern trolling, dude. This is our home. I can't help anybody in Thailand, or Afghanistan, or China, except by standing tall for libertarian principles for everyone everywhere, and putting my money where my mouth is. It's "What the fuck is wrong with these idiots?": The infinite refrain of anybody with half a brain who watches any news on TV.

    On this we agree.

    Good.

  • Brutus||

    Yes, but does the victim resemble any member of the Executive branch?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Well, if Joe Biden knocked-up a Mexican girl, he'd have a love child that looks like the victim.

  • Brutus||

    I smell Congressional investigation.

  • alittlesense||

    Congressional investigation? I thought that smell was a backed up septic tank! You say the two smell alike?

  • Pip||

    Downtown Minneapolis is littered with food trucks. It's great! They are moving them into the parks as well. Maybe Reason (DRINK!!!) could do a piece on why it is working so well in the Twin Cities. It would be great to learn why it works so well here.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    It would be great to learn why it works so well here.

    Because Minneapolis figures people should have the freedom to spend their money on food they like. It's actually simple.

  • ||

    I think Pip's point is not the obvious one you made, HM; I think Pip's point is "Why has Downtown MN decided not to fix what is not broken?"

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    ^^^Exactly.

  • anon||

    It's obviously a radical libertarian conspiracy to kill babies and black people.

  • anon||

    Shit, old people too. I'm slipping on my TEAM AMERICA talking points.

  • Evil Otto||

    Are they parked in front of restaurants, siphoning away customers who gather at such places? If not, there's your clue as to why it works.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Those sons of bitches. Siphoning away customers by providing more value for the their money.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    In Los Angeles, the trucks often gather on streets with high foot traffic. This means lots of retail and brick and mortar restaurants. The trucks also bring foot traffic from which brick and mortar shops and restaurants benefit. There is plenty to go around. Any bellyaching about the trucks comes from restaurants that can't compete in quality, price, or service. Creative destruction is the driver of innovation.

  • Berdo||

    I would not be surprised if we start seeing Burger King and McDonald's food trucks. I wouldn't mind buying a Big Mac across the street from me.

  • IceTrey||

    Seriously? Most of the new food trucks are serving near gourmet quality food at a reasonable price and you want a Big Mac? A foodie you are not.

  • Nooge.||

    He's an ironic foodie. Big Macs have their place.

  • toxic||

    Is it really near gourmet quality, or is this like the locally owned restaurant that everyone gives an extra two stars because it's been there forever?

    I've never eaten at a food truck, but I suspect the perception of food trucks probably has more to do with the enormous number of wretched Mexican restaurants setting a very low bar for people who actually know how to make a taco.

  • EDG reppin' LBC||

    I would not be surprised if we start seeing Burger King and McDonald's food trucks. I wouldn't mind buying a Big Mac across the street from me.

    I have seen a Burger King truck around Orange County. Also, I have seen at least three BK's in store fronts in strip malls. Not stand alone restaurants, but store fronts tucked next door to the nail salon, vacuum cleaner repair, and 98 Cent store. Seems like BK is trying some different formats, trying to generate more sales. This is how the game is played, delivering your product to where consumers are. Other brick and mortar shops should do this, instead of lobbying the State to outlaw competition.

  • NC Lawyer||

    I haven't seen any trucks with gourmet quality food, but if that is the case, then they offer quality and convenience. To compete, brick and mortar restaurants need to consider their quality, price, atmosphere, and service.

  • ||

    In Austin, we can definitely get gourmet quality food. And insane variety.

    Interestingly, ONE company owns the vast majority of food trucks here. I wonder why that is (sincere tone).

  • Scooby||

    What is this one company? To the best of my knowledge, the vast majority of food trucks in Austin are indies.

  • chaussure lacoste||

    sport bons, alls sont les grands hommes, merci pour le partage

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