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Hungry on the run?

Orange City’s leaders are working to comply with a new state law that favors food trucks.

The city has permitted food trucks to do business only in connection with special events. However, earlier this year, the Florida Legislature and Gov. Ron DeSantis made it illegal for cities or counties to ban food trucks or require their owners to secure a local business license.

There are, however, a few things left that a city can do.

“We can’t require a permit,” Orange City Development Services Director Becky Mendez said. “The city can regulate how many and where they’re located.”

“The city must accommodate them,” she added.

Under the state’s Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act, which went into effect July 1, most of the authority to regulate food trucks rests with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Orange City may specify the zoning classifications where food trucks will be allowed, and may restrict the days and hours when they may operate. The city may also require a fire-safety inspection.

In January, the Orange City Council may act on a new law to regulate food trucks. This month, with a draft law on the table, the City Council had a rousing discussion of the pros and cons, based on a report on the topic.

The pros:

Food trucks provide opportunities for entrepreneurs and small businesses to start up and operate at a relatively low cost.

Food trucks can add interest, vibrancy and activity to the city.

The cons:

Without proper regulation, food trucks may pose a threat to brick-and-mortar businesses.

Food trucks may block the public right of way, or otherwise create a nuisance.

Orange City Council Member Bill O’Connor expressed doubt about a food truck as a steppingstone to an actual restaurant.

“They’re kind of like Gypsies. They’re not going to build a brick-and-mortar,” he said.

O’Connor expressed support for requiring a minimum distance between a food truck and a restaurant.

“We do need to protect our businesses,” O’Connor said. “I think we should put footage in there, but I don’t know what that footage should be.”

He cautioned against what he has seen in Deltona.

“If you go down Deltona Boulevard, there are seven food trucks within 2 miles. That’s not what I want to see,” O’Connor said.

Another City Council member argued for supporting fledgling businesses.

“People in the community are trying to make a living,” Vice Mayor Kellianne Marks said.

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Al Everson
Born in Virginia, Al spent his youth in Tennessee, North Carolina and Virginia, and first moved to DeLand in 1969. He graduated from Stetson University in 1971, and returned to West Volusia in 1985. Al began working for The Beacon as a stringer in 1999, contributing articles on county and municipal government and, when he left his job as the one-man news department at Radio Station WXVQ, began working at The Beacon full time.


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