Date of Award

6-2011

Degree Name

Master of City and Regional Planning

Department

City and Regional Planning

Advisor

Umut Toker

Abstract

Recent advancements in social networking and technology, and the increasing popularity of “gourmet” food trucks, have brought renewed attention to mobile food vending. Research indicates that vendors can provide inexpensive food to city dwellers and have a positive impact on the vibrancy of public spaces. The recent popularity of vendors, however, has fueled ongoing debates over public space use and regulation. Municipalities are looking to craft policies to appease community members with a range of opinions on the acceptability of vending on public streets. This thesis uses the case study of Los Angeles to attempt to answer the research question: What are the relationships among policies on food vendors, food vendors, and the public’s use and perception of urban space? The study triangulates information gathered from public space user surveys, behavior mapping and observation, in-depth interviews, and archival research to address this research question. Findings indicate that vending can contribute to vibrancy and activity in public spaces, and public space users generally perceive vendors positively. Findings of the research also suggest, however, that some public spaces do not provide adequate amenities for food truck customers and public space users. These, and other findings, are used to inform the policy and planning recommendations presented in this study.

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