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Off the Grid coming to Millbrae
February 13, 2014, 05:00 AM By Angela Swartz Daily Journal

The popular, and sometimes controversial, Off the Grid food truck event is coming to Millbrae.

The City Council unanimously approved giving the food truck startup a special use permit to close the cul-de-sac portion of Aviador Avenue for Thursday events at a Tuesday night meeting. The hours of operation will be 5 p.m.-9 p.m. and there will be live music performances 6 p.m.-8 p.m. The event is at least a month out from the Millbrae opening, said Marla McLaughlin, who handles public relations for the company.

“I’m hoping more visitors come into Millbrae,” said Mayor Wayne Lee. “When I say Off the Grid is coming, eyes grow three times larger.”

A staff report notes since the creation of the multi-modal transit station, the area around the site has been vastly underutilized. Off the Grid works to develop markets that are both located in urban cores of cities and use spaces that are not easily activated effectively throughout the day. The Off the Grid location is next to the Chevron gas station on Millbrae Avenue. The area is also in the eastern portion of BART’s parking lot and generally no cars park at or near that end of the lot, the report states.

Off the Grid operates rain or shine and will help the community interact better, said Ben Himlan, Off the Grid business development director. Vendors will be rotated on a consistent biweekly basis to keep the variety of food interesting and maximize truck participation.

“I think you guys have a strong understanding of what we’re trying to do,” he said. “It’s essentially 20 new businesses coming to Millbrae.”

Himlan noted young families, food and tech savvy clientele are drawn to Off the Grid events. He also said it won’t necessarily be people from Millbrae coming to the event, but also people coming in on public transportation. New people would come into Millbrae when they otherwise wouldn’t, he said.

“This will bring happiness to us,” said Councilwoman Anne Oliva.

Revenue for the city will be in the form of food and beverage sales tax and a $97 business license is required for each truck.

Meanwhile, in Burlingame, there was recently conflict between Off the Grid and Broadway business owners who felt the event was pulling away customers from brick and mortar establishments. Merchants attempted to have the event moved from a Broadway Caltrain parking lot location to Broadway between Chula Vista and Capuchino avenues in a move that they said would bring them more business. Ultimately, the City Council recommended the food trucks stay at the Caltrain location since there were a number of traffic and safety concerns associated with moving it to Broadway.

The Millbrae Off the Grid item was continued from a prior meeting due to concerns over traffic and while the project is categorically exempt under the California Environmental Quality Act, staff reviewed the project under the initial study environmental review checklist for evaluation of any significant effects it would have regarding traffic and noise, the staff report states.

The project is within the existing other land uses that are exposed to the noise generated by the airport. Since the event is only once a week and during non-commute hours, it shouldn’t have a significant traffic or transportation impact, the report states.

The establishment needs two hours dedicated for setup and breakdown, so the special event permit will be from 4 p.m.-10 p.m. There will be two onsite employees, provided by Off the Grid. The event includes 150 chairs, lighting and trash stations. The permit expires in a year and has to be renewed 90 days prior to expiration if Off the Grid seeks renewal.

Visit for more information on the business.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105



Tags: event, millbrae, coming, business, truck, traffic,

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