Food trucks could face heavy restrictions

City Council to discuss new food truck bill at 3 p.m. Wednesday at City Hall

By Ashley Harding - Reporter

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - They're often seen all around town and they're among the fastest-growing businesses in the country. But under a new bill drafted by a Jacksonville city councilman, some heavy restrictions could come into play for food trucks.

Could that lead to food trucks being banned?

Wednesday afternoon, a meeting is being held at city hall to discuss a bill that would drastically change the way food trucks operate in Jacksonville.
City councilman Reginald Brown has proposed a bill that would ban food trucks from parks and neighborhoods. Even giving them a daily curfew for when they must close down.

If this bill is passed, they do believe it will significantly hurt their food truck business.
Councilman Brown said he doesn't want to shut them down, but believes there needs to be stricter rules. But some food truck owners fear the new rules could ruin their businesses.

"Anything that says or tries to end food trucks is definitely, is going to scare me a little bit. But uh, we'll see what happens. I think you should try to support small, local businesses and that's what we are. I think we should all stick together and not try to put each other out of business," said Andrew Ferenc.

Every day, there's a long line outside On The Fly Sandwiches and Stuff, the food truck Ferenc helps run. It's probably no surprise, given the tasty menu it has to offer.

"I love what I do, I love the food truck, I love the food that I deliver out of the truck," said Ferenc. "I love my customers. It's just a great business."

If the new bill passes, On The Fly would be among countless other food trucks subject to heavy restrictions. The way the bill is written now, food trucks would not be allowed in residential neighborhoods, would not be allowed next to restaurants, couldn't be within 500 feet of a public park and would have to close by midnight.

"Jacksonville is behind the curve when it comes to legislation," said Councilman Reginald Brown, who drafted the bill.

He said it's not about driving food trucks away, but about bringing order to this new growing venture.

"Food trucks are (quickly) coming to Jacksonville, and we want to have some order," Brown said. "Right now, I can tell you that I've dealt with two in particular. Both of those guys have set their food trucks adjacent to a business or a restaurant."

Ferenc said his food truck hurts no one.

"I don't think food trucks are a threat to brick and mortars," he said. "If anything, they draw more people to the area. I mean, if a customer comes this way and our line is too long, they're going to turn around and go to another restaurant. We're not a threat to restaurants, by any means."

A meeting to discuss the bill is scheduled for Wednesday afternoon at 3 p.m. at City Hall. Brown said it's all about laying ideas out on the table.

"We're encouraging folks to come out, but we have the dialogue that's needed," he said. "We'll take the best practices from places like Seattle and Cleveland and make it fit for Jacksonville."

Brown said if the bill passes, he hopes the mayor would sign in right away, putting the restrictions into effect immediately.

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