A coalition of Latino and BIPOC businesses says the resolution passed Monday night by a 5-2 Burien City Council majority shows “how disconnected some elected officials are from the pandemic’s economic devastation.”

Resolution 445 – which was passed as part of Monday night’s consent agenda – allows for a one-year Food Truck pilot program in Burien.

As we previously reported, the idea was first proposed last February when the Burien City Council directed the Business and Economic Development Partnership (BEDP) to study whether food trucks should be allowed to operate in the city as part of their 2020 work plan. The BEDP considered the program at three public meetings, then recommended the pilot program back to the council.

On Monday night, the council first discussed a request presented by Mayor Jimmy Matta that the food truck issue be removed from the meeting’s consent agenda and brought back for further discussion in 20 days. However, Resolution 445 passed by a 5-2 vote, with Matta and councilmember Sofia Aragon voting against it. The council says it will still hear an update on April 5, although their decision stands.

Empresarios Unidos and other community-based advocacy organizations say that “they now commit to mobilize against the food truck measure and hold accountable at the ballot box those politicians who ignore them.”

“It is difficult and disappointing to witness how tone deaf the council majority is to our concerns,” says Alfredo Covarrubias, President of Empresarios Unidos. “What makes this especially offensive is that they have zero experience operating a restaurant during a catastrophic pandemic. We were left out of the process altogether for months because we don’t matter to them. We won’t sit still or stand by quietly as they dictate terms that threaten to destroy our livelihood and years of sweat and sacrifice!”

“We wanted meaningful action that respected our voice,” said David Cruz, ranking board member of the Latin Business Association (LBA), the nation’s oldest Hispanic entrepreneurial organization. LBA is headquartered in Los Angeles, California and has formed a sister-city partnership with Empresarios Unidos. “Instead, they turned our petition pleading for help against us. It’s clear, their minds were made up from the start. Meanwhile, we’re facing economic gentrification. Food trucks don’t have the expenses we do. Not to mention the property taxes we pay and local payrolls we create or vendors we support. What are these polticians thnking?”

Empresarios Unidos and LBA are organizing an intensive informational campaign with local businesses and residents. They are exploring all options from legal to political in building a stronger voice that will bring accountability back to Burien City Hall.

“This issue is far from over,” Covarrubias said. “Cesar Chavez said it best: ‘Once social change begins, it cannot be reversed. You cannot uneducate the person who has learned to read. You cannot humiliate the person who feels pride. You cannot oppress the people who are not afraid anymore.’ We are not done and the BIPOC communities in Burien are here to stay.”

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