San Francisco could be first US city to regulate mobile retail

Feb. 28, 2013

San Francisco businesses ranging from clothing boutiques to dog groomers are trying to go mobile — as in on four wheels. According to an article on, the City Hall is seeing more and more hopeful entrepreneurs seeking permits for mobile businesses similar to food trucks.

The only problem, the article points out, is that no such permit exists. Under current law, mobile retail is explicitly prohibited.

"It's a legal gray area for anything else service-related that's not mobile food," said Christian Murdock, an Office of Small Business staffer, in the article. "But these folks are trying to do the right thing and come in and get their business vetted, regulated, so they can get up and running."

A draft version of regulations that would address where in San Francisco the trucks can operate, whether chain store trucks would be regulated differently, cost of permits and enforcement responsibilities is expected by the end of March, the article reported. The regulations, if passed, would be the first of their kind in the U.S.

Proponents for mobile retail have high expectations for the industry's success once regulations are passed.

"I think 2013 is the year of the mobile retail truck," said Stacey Steffe, who founded the West Coast Mobile Retail Association in 2011.

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