Just how safe is it to grab a tasty taco from a truck? 

No matter how tasty those tacos with carne asada appear in the taco trucks along El Camino Real, the city highly advises against quick dashes across the street to patronize the vendors.

Mobile food vendors — typically serving Mexican cuisine and dubbed "taco trucks" or the cruder "roach coach" — are standard fare along the busy thoroughfare.

El Camino Real spells big business for the vendors and high foot-traffic from hungry office workers or passers-by. However, the city is concerned that the trucks are creating safety problems.

San Bruno police Chief Neil Telford said he has seen a number of close calls on El Camino directly related to cars abruptly zooming across lanes toward the vendors. Telford also said callers regularly complain about similar near-accidents.

Though there have been no accidents, to Telford’s knowledge, directly related to the mobile vendors, El Camino is no stranger to collisions. The roadway, which has a speed limit of 35 miles per hour, saw 188 vehicle accidents between July 1, 2005, and June 30, 2006, eight of which involved parked cars, according to the San Bruno Police Department.

Parking has become another issue related to taco trucks. The 24-foot-long vehicles not only obstruct views of oncoming traffic; they are taking up valuable space when they park for more than the allotted two hours.

These concerns were presented to vehicle vendors at a meeting approximately three weeks ago, Telford said. The city originally proposed a 30-minute parking window for vendors, a proposal unpopular with the vendors.

A proposal being voted on by the City Council later this month would allow mobile food vendors, like all other vehicles on El Camino, to park for two hours before moving from their spots. Even if vendors find their way to a four-hour spot they would still be relegated to the two-hour limit. They would also be prohibited from returning to a spot within 500 feet of their original location within three hours, City Attorney Pamela Thompson said.

Mobile vendors working on Thursday declined to comment. At a taqueria truck on El Camino, just south of the Interstate 280 and Interstate 380 onramps, nearby office worker Jon Grending said two hours seemed like a fair amount of time.

"They shouldn’t be causing accidents or impeding safety," Grending said. "But they should be able to sell their food, especially since they’re so popular around here."

tramroop@examiner.com

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