Over the past few weeks, a contentious public discussion over whether or not S.F. Rec and Park should have awarded permits to two vendors — Mission nonprofit kitchen incubator La Cocina and Oakland-based Blue Bottle Coffee — to operate trailers within the popular Mission hangout spot, Dolores Park, has taken place over blogs and meetings.
And now, after blog comments about spitting and vague word of tire-slashing, Blue Bottle owner James Freeman said that he has decided not to drive his trailer into the park at all.
"I don't need this controversy," Freeman said. His main issue, what to do with the four employees hired to operate the coffee truck, which was permitted for daily operation for two years, has been happily resolved, as the employees will be distributed throughout other Blue Bottle locations and catering operations.
La Cocina Executive Director Caleb Zigas, who hadn't heard of the Blue Bottle pull-out, said that as of today, plans to lease their permit to El Hurache Loco were still on track. (The truck is ready but no date for launch has been made yet.)
The debate about the trailers, which would have room for four or so people and have a generator, has largely centered on the process, rather than on the vendors themselves. (Although, at first at least, Blue Bottle was likened to McDonald's in an online petition.) A group of residents, business owners and author Stephen Elliott has organized against "the commercialization of Dolores Park" — alleging that local residents hadn't had enough notice to debate the permits. (Elliott has since decided to step back, as no good solution to the already-granted permits seemed available.)
La Cocina's Zigas said that there was irony in the position, as from his organization's perspective, the permits were an improvement over the normal, onerous city-run process that has hindered small vendors from legally operating food trucks. For more information on the debate, check out SF Foodie, which has been following this for over a year, and Uptown Almanac, whose Dolores Park coverage is almost daily. And we'll have a story on Friday detailing this kerfluffle in the context of Dolores Park's unique cultural position in the city.