PALMETTO -- With unemployment growing higher and jobs scarce, more people have been taking their wares and talents to the streets. In the City of Palmetto, roadside food carts have had a mixed welcome, and those up to renew their permits are finding opposition. Monday night, city commissioners sat perplexed with what to do, and chose to take their street vendors ordinance into an upcoming workshop in search of a workable plan.
Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said she has been getting reports from some of the local restaurants that street vendors are hindering their business. Not mentioning any in particular, the Mayor said she understands how difficult it can be for a business to sell something indoors that is being sold from a cart just feet from their parking lot.
Currently, Palmetto has 11 cart permits registered with the city, five of which are up for renewal. Merchants fear any further increase will hurt their business. Those representing mobil, or cart businesses, say they too realize the challenge, but see it as just that, a challenge.
John Daniel was the first to speak at Monday night's meeting. He said, "America was built on small independent businesses." Daniel wanted the commission to consider the need for people to make a living, adding, "they are people who are paying taxes." Daniel acknowledged the pressure the commission was under at times and that he just prayed they would realize "we all need to make a living."
After Daniel, Georgia Drakopoulos wheeled up to the podium. She too asked for the commission to consider the needs of those with the carts. She said, "Sometimes we only sell a few meals or items a day, maybe ten, but we are just getting enough to get by most of the time." Drakopoulos said normally she can only stay out for a couple of hours, but now that it is getting cooler it will be easier to stay out a little longer. She added, "I know you will do the right thing and please don't put these people out of business." Drakopoulos says she was there on behalf of the ones who also had carts but couldn't come.
Both were sincere and appreciative for the opportunity to voice the need to continue making a living. Commissioners said those that renew their permit now will have to comply with any modifications the commission agrees upon. There was no vote, just a consensus to take the ordinance to a workshop. Commissioners said they did not want to put the carts out of business, but there would have to be some changes.
Date of workshop on the issue to be announced.