Gourmet Food Trucks in Riverside County and the City of Riverside

My post on Gourmet Food Trucks in San Bernardino County and the City of San Bernardino continues to be popular, so I thought I would add a follow-up about Riverside County and the City of Riverside.  The County’s Code, according to this Riverside Press-Enterprise story, prohibits food from being prepared on a truck, except for things like hot dogs (such as those outside the Riverside County Courthouses).  In effect, it allows “catering trucks” instead of gourmet food trucks.  The Council adopted Ordinance 7112 (an uncodified, unsigned version here) in January 2011 adding Chapter 5.36 of the Riverside Municipal Code.

There is an exception for special events.  Riverside Municipal Code section 5.36.090.

Cities often get pressure from bricks and mortar restaurants to prohibit gourmet food trucks, because they argue that gourmet food trucks are unfairly competing, because they do not have to pay expensive rent.  However, any argument that they do not have to pay a business license tax or registration tax is not correct.  Each truck must pay the proportional share in each jurisdiction it is doing business.  They have to collect and pay sales tax, too.

Copyright 2011 Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

 

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

What Riverside County and San Bernardino County Public Entities Should Do To Promote Open Government

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

I have worked for three California cities:  The City of Santa Clara when I was in law school, the City of San Bernardino as a Deputy City Attorney and as the Assistant City Attorney for the City of Redlands.   Each City was different: Santa Clara is a full-service charter law Northern California city (including its own electric utility) with an in-house City Attorney’s Office.  San Bernardino is a full-service charter law Southern California City with an elected city attorney.  Redlands is a full-service general law city with an in-house City Attorney’s Office.   Since I have started my own firm, I have seen California’s good government laws from a different perspective.  Some cities use the California Public Records Act as a shield, instead of fulfilling the transparency requirements of the Act.  Some cities see the Public Records Act as burden because of the rare cases of alleged abuse.

Based on my more than a decade experience in municipal law, I make the following recommendations to Inland Empire cities, towns, counties, special districts, school districts, and water districts:

1. Have an open government or specifically a California Public Records Act section on your website.

2.  Archive your minutes, agendas and agenda reports online in an easily searched database (good) or make the files available to search engine robots (better).

3. Post the things that most people care about online such as employee salaries, pension information, agreements, Fair Political Practices Commission Form 700s.  If anything needs to be redacted, or can be redacted under the California Public Records Act, it can be done.  Posting this information online will both provide transparency to the public and keep staff from having to respond to different requests for the same information.

4. Let the public know how to make California Public Records Act requests on your website, and train staff regarding their obligations under the Act.  Provide an online and printable form for records.

Today, I searched the City of Riverside’s website for “Public Records Act.”  What were the top results?  This verbiage on Council agendas: “SPEAKER CARDS–If you wish to address the City Council please complete and submit a speaker card to the City Clerk before the scheduled meeting time. Speaker cards can be found at the east entrance to the City Council Chamber and City Hall lobby. Speaker cards will be accepted until the agenda item is called. In accordance with the Public Records Act, any information you provide on this form is available to the public.”   Here, they are using the Public Records Act as a club:  They are warning that if you put information on a speaker card for a City Council meeting, it is a public record.

I also searched the City of San Bernardino’s site today.  The results were more disappointing then those in Riverside.  There was only one mention of the Public Records Act, in the site’s disclaimer and privacy policy.

Cities need to stop making the process so adversarial.  Yes, Public Records Act requests take time and money.  However, with out residents, most cities and other local governments would be out of business.  Elected officials need to realize that keeping residents happy is in their best interest, and making Public Records Act requests is in the best interest of their entities.

Copyright 2011 Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

 

A: 300 E. State St., Suite 517
Redlands, CA 92373-5235
T: (909) 296-6708

Riverside County Superior Court New Telephone Numbers

By Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law

According to this press release, the Superior Court of California for the County of Riverside is switching to a new telephone system.  What this means is that phone numbers for the courts are changing.  The press release links to the Riverside Superior Court’s homepage, its Twitter feed, and states that it has a Facebook account.  The Facebook page is here.  The homepage is here.  The Twitter feed is here.  The actual phone numbers on their website are somewhat hidden, but can be found here.  These are just the general phone numbers.  If you want the individual court room or executive staff phone numbers, they are a little more difficult to come by.  The legal newspaper, the Daily Journal, publishes a courtroom directory.  Unfortunately for the general public, it is available only to subscribers.   Typically, if you do not have a lawyer and you are going to go to a courtroom, you can obtain the phone number of the civil attendant or the clerk in person.

The information you obtain at this blog is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. No attorney-client relationship is established by reading or commenting on this blog.  You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation.

Copyright 2011 Michael Reiter, Attorney at Law