Petition calls to save Mesa food trucks, but owners eye other plans – The Arizona Republic

A petition to save the contenious east Mesa food truck park, which plans to shut down March 1, has hit home for hundreds of supporters. But the venue’s owners already are eyeing other plans.
David Darling, Power Food Park co-owner, on Monday said he plans to close the park off Power and Brown roads because he couldn’t come to an agreement that satisfied him, the food truck owners and city officials. Within hours, a petition cropped up and, by mid-day Tuesday, garnered nearly 1,000 signatures.
The petition calls for a “compromise on a solution that continues to allow the operation of the Power Food Park in our community and keep the surrounding neighborhood happy.”
Dozens of people have left comments on the petition, praising what the food truck park has done for the suburban area.
“I first went to the power park with my family and grandparents on our vacation, and it blew me away,” Mitchel Hart wrore. “Everyone was inviting and supportive. People were enjoying themselves and supporting not only small businesses but entrepreneurs.”
Another supporter, Amelia Brown, wrote: “This park is a great opportunity in our community. We love it! We want to find a way to keep the neighborhood happy while keeping this park!”
Despite the outpouring of support, the venue’s owners may take the land in a different direction.
Ray Johnson, the other Power Food Park co-owner, on Tuesday told The Arizona Republic he and Darling are looking at building housing on the land. Before the food truck park, Darling had proposed building a self-storage facility there.
“We’re looking for residential. There’s a housing boom out there and the neighbors want to keep it residential,” Johnson said. “One of the options we’ve looked at as well … we could build a charter school there.”
Power Food Park opened in 2020 on an east Mesa dirt lot next to a Red Mountain area neighborhood.
What started as a handful of food trucks a couple nights each week quickly transformed into a growing dining destination with more than a dozen food trucks almost every night of the week.
The owners pointed to it as a valuable community asset and a boon for small business. In the middle of a pandemic when people were avoiding cramped indoor spaces and looking to leave their homes, diners could eat outside and food truck owners could see a lot of business, they argued.
But a band of nearby residents pushed back, saying the venue was too loud and too busy. And, they pointed out, a development like this isn’t allowed under the land’s current zoning, which allows for office space.
The City Council was scheduled to decide on rezoning the land in February. In December, it amended city code to say food trucks cannot operate within 250 feet of homes — the buffer previously had been 25 feet. 
But, the owners said at the time, that wouldn’t affect the Power Food Park. If they wanted to continue the food truck operation, they would have to get the land rezoned and get the city to sign off on a development agreement.
Johnson said the city shared a draft development agreement with them, but he and Darling didn’t like much of the conditions in it, such as requiring that grass at the property couldn’t be used for sports.
“So if a little kid brings his football out here … now we’re in violation of our development agreement?” Johnson said.
Johnson said he and Darling decided to pull the plug and withdraw their rezoning application after an early January City Council study session, which is a meeting for city leaders to discuss issues but not vote on them.
Some council members at the meeting expressed concern that the food truck venture was too intense for the property.
“That’s ultimately where we knew we were dead in the water,” Johnson said.
Reach reporter Joshua Bowling at or 602-444-8138. Follow him on Twitter @MrJoshuaBowling.
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