Miami lacks appetite for new food truck regulations
Legislation that would add additional food trucks regulations in the City of Miami has stalled, as the discussion among commissioners centered on the ways food trucks operate in the city among brick-and-mortar businesses.
Last week, city commissioners deferred an item sponsored by Commissioner Ken Russell that would address food trucks operating in the city with more permanence.
The legislation would mandate that all food trucks present in the same location for more than three days or parked on-site overnight, before receiving a business tax receipt, provide a notarized letter or affidavit from the property owner authorizing the food trucks and a site plan approved by the office of zoning that would show the proposed location. Additionally, for those food trucks, public restrooms must be available on site.
Mr. Russell introduced amendments to the legislation, one of which would require property owned and operated by a religious institution, educational institution or the city, which are currently exempt from the legislation, to provide access to a permanent bathroom. However, other commissioners pointed to problems that could emerge from the amendment, and as a result, it was removed.
Commissioner Joe Carollo, whose district currently does not permit food trucks, pointed to a need to protect brick-and-mortar businesses, especially now amid the coronavirus. He said businesses that would be most affected by the pandemic would be small businesses, which will struggle to pay their leases. He said passing the legislation would be like throwing a 100-pound weight to someone that needs a lifejacket.
“Ladies and gentlemen, there’s going to be a tremendous downsizing of our economy – as a country, as a region, as a city – real soon because of the coronavirus,” Mr. Carollo said.
City code now states food trucks require a business tax receipt, which is obtained by showing certificates of inspection from the Miami-Dade County Department of Health and the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Hotels and Restaurants. Also required are proof of valid insurance, a vehicle identification number and a valid peddler’s business tax receipt from Miami-Dade County.
Food trucks aren’t allowed to operate within 500 feet of food service establishments, or gasoline, natural gas or other combustible energy source establishments, nor can they be in single-family residential areas and some low-density residential areas.
Properties in which food trucks are parked must have an active certificate of use. If no more than two food trucks are on-site, the activities qualify as ancillary to the certificate of use so long as they are in an allowed zoning area and are not present more than three times weekly and do not park on-site overnight, a provision that would be struck if the legislation as it stands is approved.
Also for food trucks, a temporary use of vacant land permit can be obtained from the city, which is valid for a year.
“We have to find a happy medium where we don’t hurt the brick-and-mortars, particular the small businesses, but at the same time we don’t curtail the right of anybody that does want to start a small business with the little capital that they have in a food truck,” Commissioner Manolo Reyes said.