PALMETTO -- City Commissioners have been struggling to find the right recipe to keep mobile food vendors on the street and in balance with existing businesses.
For years, mobile food vendors just showed up across from some popular spot or on a well traveled highway, needing no more than a business license to sell their grub. Currently, there are five local food trucks registered in Palmetto.
Last year complaints started coming in when vendors would set up in or near the parking lot of a local restaurant. Mayor Shirley Groover Bryant said that some of the carts are left unattended, and that they could easily be a problem.
Bryant attempted to remedy the situation by suggesting an ordinance that would regulate the number and locations to where the food trucks could do business without interrupting local businesses.
But some of those in the mobile food vendor business feel the ordinance is overkill. Georgia Drakeopoulos, who attended many of the meetings, was not able to attend Monday's meeting, but was contacted by phone, and said, "we're just trying to earn a living." Drakeopoulos is disabled, and says she only sells $30 to $40 in sales a day.
"They say we are a distraction for traffic, there are a lot of things that are far more of a distraction," said Drakeopoulos. "We all need the same set of rules."
During recent workshops, the ordinance was relaxed before Monday night's vote, which passed 3-2 (Commissioners Smith and Cornwell dissenting). The basic rules are:
-- There will not be a temporary permit charge for daily operations
-- Seasonal vendors are limited to 120 days and required to have an agreement with a property owner for use of restroom facilities.
-- Daily vendors will have to take care of their solid waste
-- Daily operations will end one hour after sunset
The existing moratorium on permits will expire June 30, 2013, and new permit forms will be ready by July 1 when the ordinance goes into effect.
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