Santa Ana's Taco Truck Owners Mull Lawsuit Against City Council's War On Carne Asada

Sayre (in suit) surrounded by SanTana's lonchera class; Alebrije's Grill owner Albert Hernandez is in red
Sayre (in suit) surrounded by SanTana's lonchera class; Alebrije's Grill owner Albert Hernandez is in red
Photo by Jeanette Duran

Loncheras of SanTana, unite! Taco truck owners held a meeting yesterday afternoon at a food-truck commissary in the city with famed lawyer Federico Sayre to mull their legal options against the council's war against carne asada. Organizers expected about 20 of their colleagues to show up; instead over 70 people appeared. Men, women and children showed up, all dressed casually in their work boots or woven huaraches. Sayre, per his profession, stood out in a navy blue suit and a purple tie.

As soon as he talked, everyone gathered and attentively listened. 10 years ago, when the SanTana City Council-vendidos enacted regulations against food trucks in order to choke them to death, Sayre filed a successful lawsuit that has allowed the city's lonchera scene to become the nationally famous happening it is today. "I figured that was good but just recently out of a sudden they decided to move quickly without a warning to attack loncheras," Sayre said.

Three loncheros—Albert Hernandez of Alebrijes Grill, Jesus Rodriguez of Mariscos El Yaqui, and Abel Sanchez) reached out to Sayre, who planned to take statements from individual owners on how the new regulations would affect each one of them. But so many people showed up that Sayre plans to continue this process for three more days. Most of the people who attended were food truck owners who until yesterday had no idea what was going on. When Sayre announced the regulations to them—no parking with 500 feet of a school, park, or community center; no scrolling marquee; no amplified sound; no restocking of supplies outside of a commisary—they were in shock as well as confused and in fear for their businesses.

The scene at SanTana's most popular taco truck, Tacos Ayutla Oaxaca. If the regulations hold, this lonchera will become illegalEXPAND
The scene at SanTana's most popular taco truck, Tacos Ayutla Oaxaca. If the regulations hold, this lonchera will become illegal
Photo by The Mexican

"I had no idea about this until I heard about it word by mouth," one truck owner said. "I don't know when the city council meetings are and when I tried to look up the ordinance, it was all in English." Some of the organizers took it upon themselves to translate, copy and pass out the regulations in Spanish to the owners who don't read English.

Sayre told the Weekly that when he first heard about the proposed regulations, he contacted SanTana attorney Sonia Carvalho but got no reply. Through councilmember Vince Sarmiento, Sayre finally got her to talk; she told Sayre that the city will consider changes only if he had actual data, facts, names, numbers and reasons on how the new regulations would affect each lonchera. If Sayre can't convince her to lighten the regulations, he says, the loncheros will sue the city.

"It isn't enough to say, 'This is injustice,'" he told the crowd. "I need statements. The city might be corrupted, but the court is not. If we have solid evidence, we will win."

Loncheros in action
Loncheros in action
JC Vera

More than 50 loncheros signed up for a one-on-one meeting with Sayre, and more are expected to show up. And organizers vow more actions. "Be sure to expect many of us at the next city council," said Hernandez. "We will not allow the city to criminalize us or run us out of business."

Hear that, Jose Solorio and Michele Martinez? SanTana's loncheros be WOKE.


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