WHAT’S COOKING IN DELTONA? — City leaders are considering what they may do to regulate food trucks, such as this one in a parking lot at the intersection of Howland and Catalina boulevards. Under a bill passed by the Florida Legislature last year, cities and counties may not prohibit food trucks from doing business, if the owners of these mobile enterprises have a state-issued license. However, a local government may require a fire-safety inspection, and a city or county may decide where they may do business, via zoning ordinances. Because food trucks are not locally licensed, Deltona city officials say they do not know how many are now operating inside the city.

Noting a growth in the numbers and popularity of food trucks, Deltona’s leaders are considering new rules for kitchens on wheels.

“Basically, a local government cannot prohibit food trucks,” Deltona Development Services Director Ron Paradise said, referring to a state law that allows such businesses to exist and operate.

However, cities and counties may regulate them with fire-safety standards and determine where and when they may operate.

Under the Occupational Freedom and Opportunity Act passed by the Florida Legislature last year, local governments may not compel owners of food trucks to obtain a local occupational license, usually known as a business-tax receipt. Rather, the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is the licensing agency. The Florida Department of Health also has a role in ensuring the food trucks meet food-safety and sanitation standards.

Paradise said Deltona has heretofore treated food trucks as “street vendors,” subject to the city’s regulations for itinerant merchants. The state law, by the way, refers to food trucks as “mobile food dispensing vehicles.”

Paradise said Deltona is working on a food-truck ordinance, which may be ready for action by the City Commission in the early fall. Key points in the working proposal include:

— Allowing food trucks to operate in commercial zones — except for vacant lots — or on property owned by churches
— Requiring property owners to approve food trucks on their property
— Requiring the owner of a food truck to provide a site plan showing that his presence will not reduce parking on the property
— Requiring food trucks to set up on paved surfaces, at least 20 feet away from buildings, trees or grassy areas
— Forbidding operators of food trucks to put temporary signs in the right of way
— Requiring a safety inspection by the Deltona Fire Department
— Limiting the hours of operation to 8 a.m.-10 p.m.
— Setting a fine of $500 for those who violate the ordinance

Other regulations for food trucks may be forthcoming.

“I don’t think there ought to be sign flippers. I don’t think there ought to be people waving people down,” Vice Mayor Anita Bradford suggested.

The state law also forbids the city from requiring the owners of food trucks to carry liability insurance, but the city may mandate the property owner to make certain he/she has coverage.

“If they poison 20 people, that shouldn’t be our responsibility,” City Attorney Marsha Segal-George said, after commissioners asked if the city would be liable for cases of foodborne illness.

“The fast way to get compliance is to go after the landlord,” Acting City Manager John Peters said.

Because the city may not license food trucks, Paradise said he does not know how many are now doing business in Deltona.

In any event, Peters said Deltona may host bazaars, or gatherings, of food trucks in the parking lot behind City Hall, perhaps on Wednesday and Saturday evenings.

“I love food trucks,” Bradford said.



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