Meeting held on food truck rules

By Tim Pulliam, Nick Jones - Producer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - It was nearly a full house at Jacksonville City Hall Wednesday afternoon for a meeting to discuss a bill seeking heavy restrictions on food trucks.

City Councilman Reggie Brown introduced a proposal Monday that would put stricter rules on the mobile businesses, requiring them to work in certain areas during set times.

The bill would prohibit food trucks from being allowed in residential neighborhoods, next to restaurants, or within 500 feet of a public park. They would also have to close by midnight.

"So without having city current legislation, what we've started to notice is, most people do the right thing, but we have a few guys out there that are not doing the right thing," Brown said.

Kelly Pickens owns The Pink Cupcake downtown and also operates a food truck. She feels the city's proposed regulations are too restrictive.

"We have a lot of different rules when you have a shop and some of the same rules are carrying over," said Pickens. "So a lot of the things discussed this evening are the same rules. So to tax us even more with the rules were already following, but then add on to that is a little too much in my opinion."

Many people are upset at the idea of tighter restrictions, and most of those in the crowd were in favor of food trucks.

Subway owner Joe Mall said he's tired of food truck customers leaving trash around his business or even using his restrooms. He believes the regulations would ensure fair competition. He said the trucks hurt his business and take away customers.

"These people come in, they work four, five hours. They work off the people who are already here and then they take off to another place later on," said Mall.

"It was written by one councilman, it doesn't have involvement by anybody downtown, the Jax Chamber or any of the food truck owners," said Dale Stoudt, who owns Super Food Truck. "It's just extremely heavy-handed and controlling and doesn't let us be a small business."

"Basically, they're saying, 'We don't want you in our city unless we have an event and we need you to run the event for us. Then you are OK to come,'" Stoudt added.

Brown said he doesn't want to shut them down, but believes there needs to be stricter rules.

"To get something that we could all coexist, that's the biggest thing," he said. "I want to make sure that the brick-and-mortars, residents, food truck owners, everyone can coexist and we create good legislation that everyone can live with."

Brown's stance wasn't popular for many at the meeting.

"Here in America, the thing that we do is when a competitor shows up on your front door, you beat them," said Bill Adams, who supports food trucks. "You make the better food offering. That's why I really don't quite understand what it is that you're talking about. Why do we need more regulations at all?"

The panel will meet in two weeks at City Hall. The committee hopes to have an ordinance in place within 90 days.

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