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Fresno food trucks: policy changes on the way

Juan Enriquez, who operates Latin Urban Bistro, is relieved to hear about changes under way to Fresno's food truck policies.

FRESNO, Calif. (KMPH)--- Juan Enriquez sees his food truck, "Latin Urban Bistro" as more than just food on wheels.

"We wanted to get the art out of Downtown Fresno and take it everywhere," he says, of his food and colorful truck that features mural-like artwork.

"It's a way of life."

He's had the business for nearly a year, and says food trucks in Fresno share a special bond.

"We're not here to take anyone else's business. We don't even compete with each other as food truck owners. We complement each other. It's food," he says.

Enriquez was one of 20 vendors at FresYes Fest in Downtown Fresno Saturday -- despite major red tape.

"We were determined to be there," he said.

The city of Fresno asked vendors to post a $500 security bond, secure zoning clearance, fill out an application, present a tax certificate, undergo a county health inspection and have every employee fingerprinted..

The cost for fingerprinting: $52 a person.

"Vendors were paying $800 to $1,000 to get all they needed," said Mike Osegueda, who organized FresYes Fest.

"That is the profit we could have taken home," said Enriquez.

Osegueda says the requirements stemmed from an ordinance on the books since 2003.

It originally applied to ice cream trucks, to prevent

pedophiles from operating them.

"It just wasn't being enforced. And I still really don't understand why now," Osegueda said.

The same law should have applied to another event Osegueda organizes: the annual Taco Truck Throwdown at Chukchansi Park.

Osegueda and others took their concerns to Fresno City Hall Monday.

By Wednesday, Mayor Lee Brand announced the city will eliminate the security bond and fingerprinting requirements.

It will also refund security bonds that vendors paid for FresYes Fest.

In a statement, Brand said, "My administration is committed to do everything we can to make Fresno the most business friendly city in the state."

Brand said staff is working on amending the current ordinance and should present changes to Fresno City Council in mid-April.

"To react so quick to our plea, our call that was just so amazing," Osegueda said.

This means vendors, like Enriquez, can focus on new culinary creations and less on red tape.

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