Paul's Note - January 13, 2023

My office has gotten a lot of questions about The Pit and its ordered closure by code enforcement officials.

For those of you who don’t know, The Pit is located at the corner of Pantano and 22nd Street at the location of an old gas station. The owners have agreements with several food truck operators and it amounts to a permanent version of those food truck roundups that occur around the city.

I like the concept. I’ve taken my family there on a couple of occasions. It is located next to The Loop, which makes it a good stop off for cyclists who want to take a break from their rides.

The people that run The Pit first approached me when they were issued a notice of violation in August. At that time, I was interested in working with code enforcement to see how they could remain open. I had been talking to our Planning and Development Services department about what my colleagues and I could do to change the code to allow an operation like this.

I had tried to make it clear to our code enforcement office that we were working on solutions. I would have liked to be informed about the enforcement action they took before they pulled the trigger. Unfortunately, my office was as blindsided as the owners and the public on this.

That said, there have been some serious issues on the site since August. There are portable toilets, but not enough given the number of people that visit. Parking is inadequate, meaning that people are using up spaces for other businesses, including a nearby restaurant that is open at the same time The Pit is. The biggest one is that their liquor license, largely a state-enforced issue, is not the sort that allows for on-site consumption.

I would have liked to see more work done on behalf of the owners to mitigate some of this. I don’t feel like they did enough to do so.

However, I still think there are things that my office could do and changes to the code to be a bit more accommodating.

My office has set up regular meetings with the head of code enforcement so that we can be briefed not only on issues around businesses, but ongoing code enforcement in neighborhoods. I believe that if I had gotten regular briefings, this situation could have been resolved differently.

Also, our code is relatively silent when it comes to operations like this. We issue peddler licenses for individual trucks, so we understand that there is a need in our marketplace for them. However, permanent and semi-permanent placement of food trucks are not specifically addressed, leaving the city to apply rules that are better designed for brick-and-mortar restaurants. We need to, of course, consider the hard work and investment that goes into those restaurants and make this fair for them as well.

The whole situation is both sad and frustrating. My staff and I will be working with my colleagues to get some changes in code, but that will take a while. In the meantime, I’m hoping we can find a temporary solution to get The Pit reopened.