Ed Garber doesn't like what the taco truck controversy is doing to his neighborhood.
The chairman of the Eastside Political Action Committee says allegations are off base that the clampdown on the taco trucks operating on Central Avenue is a form of ethnic discrimination.
Garber, a longtime Eastside resident who graduated from Garinger High, called me yesterday concerned about a story I posted about similar efforts to reduce the number of taco trucks in Los Angeles, Houston, and Des Moines.
In a Los Angeles Times story, UC Davis law professor Kevin Johnson said the fight against taco trucks in Charlotte and Des Moines is another way to express anti-immigrant views.
Garber says that’s not true and wrongly makes Eastsiders out to look like racists. He said the working class community has long been diverse, made up of African Americans, whites, and Hispanics who have lived together peacefully for years. The only thing people in East Charlotte hate, he says, "is an unproductive person."
And he says the taco truck controversy fails to recognize all the work neighbors have done to highlight local diversity. He noted the popular Taste of the World tour, which showcases area Latino, Asian, African, and Greek restaurants.
"It’s not an ethnic thing," he said. "If you look at how people in East Charlotte live. They eat in these restaurants. We're known for the restaurants. The community is supporting the restaurants. We’re trying to market the restaurants. So for the whole community to be labeled as not accepting of Latino people and diversity it is a slap in the face."
Garber said the clampdown on mobile food vendors is really about enforcing existing laws and protecting established businesses -- some owned by Latinos -- that were losing customers because mobile food vendors didn’t follow city rules.
He stressed the 9 p.m. curfew, which many taco truck owners find egregious, was already in existence but not strictly enforced.
Another new ordinance though requires mobile food vendors to stay 400 feet from each other and from residential neighborhoods, eliminating most of the sites where trucks can park on Central Avenue.
Photos: Yalonda James/The Charlotte Observer, Ed Garber, and Gary O'Brien/The Charlotte Observer