The city’s longtime ban on food trucks will bite the dust in January.
After a year of wrangling over the issue, commissioners gave final approval Tuesday to an ordinance that will allow food trucks to operate in Sunrise.
The new rules, which take effect Jan. 1, come with a long list of conditions.
Even with its restrictions, the new ordinance is an improvement over the city’s virtual ban on food trucks, says Justin Pearson, and attorney and the executive director of the Institute for Justice, Florida Chapter.
“It is far from ideal, but it is a modest step in the right direction,” Pearson said. “Our hope is that this important first step will lead to additional changes in the future, especially when brick-and-mortar businesses see how food trucks help out local businesses — including restaurants — by attracting customers from out of town. Even if there are not additional improvements in the future, this ordinance would still be an improvement over the current situation in Sunrise.”
Sunrise is not alone in wanting to regulate food trucks, Pearson said.
Coral Springs bans them outright. Delray Beach has a downtown ban, but allows food trucks outside the Central Business District. Hollywood welcomes the rolling restaurants but requires them to operate at least 200 feet from a brick and mortar restaurant.
To test the waters, Sunrise hosted its own food truck event in September.
Twenty gourmet food trucks served up dishes that evening at the Sunrise Civic Center, attracting foodies by the dozen.
Commissioner Joey Scuotto, who owns a restaurant near City Hall, initially resisted allowing food trucks in Sunrise.
On Tuesday, he said he was comfortable with the new ordinance because food trucks still won’t be able to operate in Sunrise on a daily basis.
“The food trucks wanted to be able to come in and operate at any time,” Scuotto said before the meeting. “The commission is looking out for the interests of the city.”
In Sunrise, food truck owners must get a $100 special event permit and have a notarized letter from the property owner granting permission for the event.
The city will allow only three food trucks to gather at the same time. And private property owners will be limited to hosting six food truck events for the year.
Before each event, the organizer must pay a refundable security bond of $250 to ensure that any damage is repaired.
All city-sponsored events are exempt from the new rules.
Arlon Kennedy, a food truck owner from Sunrise, hopes his city will eventually follow the lead of Oakland Park, where food trucks operate with few restrictions.
“There’s still a long ways to go,” Kennedy said. “But this is a start.”