Stocklandia, a food truck park near downtown Stockton, brought together diverse cuisines such as Mexican seafood, Filipino lumpia and American soul food and barbecue. But it also created a family, owners and vendors said.
“Stocklandia is more than just a food truck park; it’s a business that stands for small businesses and stands for its community,” co-owner Kenneth Foster said. "What better way to bring the community together, with different cultures and everything ... than food?"
But the park, which operated for about a year, is shutting down.
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Foster and co-owner Veronica Martinez say permit challenges and visits from city code enforcement officials have discouraged food truck vendors from participating in the project.
“A lot of [vendors] started telling us, we can’t stay here,” co-owner Veronica Martinez said.
Vendors could not be reached for comment.
Stocklandia was the first food truck park to open on private property in the city, and aimed to provide food truck operators stability. Stockton's food trucks are increasingly popular — featured at the annual tree-lighting ceremony and Beer Week, and on the Food Network. But food truck owners face a number of challenges including theft, and needing to be moved regularly because of parking restrictions.
"Our job was to try to change all that," Foster said. Stocklandia leased space to truck owners who also received security and access to bathrooms, electricity and ice.
Stockton's municipal code does not allow food truck parks, but Stocklandia has temporary permission to operate while staff develop a new ordinance, Connie Cochran, a city spokesperson said.
But Martinez said certain renovations required under the temporary permit would be impossible to carry out at the site. For example, the site does not have room for the 11 additional parking spaces the city required, Martinez said.
And repeated visits from code enforcement following complaints about noise, traffic and parking have made some vendors wary, she said. Although Stocklandia provided the space to operate, vendors were still responsible for satisfying certain health and safety codes.
"A lot of them are family-owned [businesses], some of them are minorities, some of them have English as a second language," Martinez said. "They did not want to have to deal with the city [code enforcement officials] every single day."
Claudia Ruiz said she was sad to see Stocklandia go. Ruiz recently purchased a new, larger truck which she had planned to station at the park.
"We were like a family," Ruiz said. "The owners are really friendly ... if [you] need something, they help you."
There is a possibility that Stocklandia could get back on its feet. The City Council is scheduled to hear an appeal regarding the food truck park in January.
"Stocklandia's not dying," Foster said. “We’re not going to give up.”
Record reporter Aaron Leathley covers business, housing, and land use. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @LeathleyAaron. Support local news, subscribe to The Stockton Record at https://www.recordnet.com/subscribenow.
This article originally appeared on The Record: Stockton's first food truck park to shut its doors