Orlando, FL: Food Truck Owners Upset Over New Rules in Orlando

The City of Orlando has implemented new rules for food trucks including where the trucks can park.

By Margaret Kavanagh  |  CFNews13.com

The City of Orlando has implemented new rules for food trucks including where the trucks can park.
The City of Orlando has implemented new rules for food trucks including where the trucks can park.

ORLANDO —  There’s a food war going on in the streets of Orlando. It’s between the city and certain food truck operators who say new rules are making it harder for food trucks to do business.

Food Truck owner George Markward “The Pastrami Project” started his business last year. He’s frustrated by new rules created by leaders with the City of Orlando that dictate how and where he can run his business.  “Personally, what worries me is that Orlando is the 800 pound gorilla, if Orlando puts these in place, it’s going drive the trucks out of Central Florida,” said Markward

New rules restrict where the trucks can park. They are not allowed in downtown Orlando and food truck operators are now forced to empty nearby trash cans in areas where they do business.

If they’re on private property they must get a notarized letter from the owner of the property.

If they are on private property they can only sell food one day a week.

“That’s really kind of tough for somebody with a truck to keep in business,” said Markward.

Representative Cassandra Lafser with the City of Orlando e-mailed the following statement to News 13:

The Orlando City Code did not allow for mobile food vending previously.  However, the City is embracing the recent popularity of mobile food vending, which has become quite a phenomenon in recent years…not just in Orlando but in other urban areas in the United States.  So, City staff worked with members of the mobile food vending community to establish this new two-year pilot program to allow mobile food vending in way that makes it easy for food trucks and carts to operate within certain areas in the City of Orlando.  The program went into effect when City Council approved it at the May 20th meeting.  As a pilot program, further changes can be made and the program may adjust as it goes.

In addition to the pilot program, Orlando City Code did always allow for and still also allows for mobile food vending in conjunction with an 18A special event permit or by obtaining a conditional use permit (CUP).  The CUP can be obtained by a mobile food business to operate on private property on a permanent basis.  Otherwise, the pilot program allows for operation at one specific private property location once each week.  Again, this is a pilot program and changes can be made as we gain more experience and gather feedback from the program.

As part of this process, the City also studied other urban cities who have adopted regulations regarding food trucks.  I’ve outlined below some key differences that provide for more business opportunities and flexibility here in Orlando:

  •  The City’s pilot program does not require a minimum distance between food trucks and restaurants which means there are a great number of opportunities for mobile food vendors to sell from many locations.
  • Chicago requires that food trucks be at least 200 feet away from a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
  • Under the City’s pilot program the temporary use permit is affordable ($50).
  • Boston charges $500 and requires that the food vendor have a contract with a GPS monitoring company so the City can monitor where and when they are vending.
  • Under the City’s pilot, there are no pre-determined spaces or spots that are the only locations where food trucks can operate.
  • Chicago has city-sanctioned “food truck stands.”
  • The City’s pilot program does not limited the number of permits available which allows for an unlimited number of food truck entrepreneurs in the City.
  • Downtown Miami has a lottery each year for the limited number of available food truck permits.

But owners like Markward don’t like the new changes.  “People are going to lose their businesses or move because you can call it a pilot, you can make it warm and fuzzy and make people think that it’s a wonderful thing, it’s not.”

The pilot program will be in place for two years.

Food truck operators could get fined $150 to $500 dollars for breaking the new rules.