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After discussing food trucks for more than two years, it appears the Pensacola City Council is finally ready to take action.

Currently, the city has no regulations whatsoever regarding food trucks. So long as trucks have business licenses and are cleared by the health department, they can operate anywhere within the city, parking anywhere any other vehicle could. However, many food truck operators and potential operators are hesitant to enter the market given the uncertainty created by the city council’s lengthy deliberations. At its September meeting earlier this month, the Council appeared ready to take action before voting to delay action once more to its next meeting.

Now, city council members Charles Bare and Larry B. Johnson have both submitted proposed ordinances for consideration at the Council’s October 8 meeting.

Proposed ordinances similiar

The two ordinances are very similar. Both use the State of Florida’s definition of “food truck” and would require food truck operators to carry general liability insurance in addition to commercial automobile insurance in order to receive a permit. Both would require food trucks to supply a receptacle for customer trash and prohibit food trucks from placing tables and chairs in the right-of-way or on sidewalks.

In fact, the only substantial differences seem to be in the areas where food trucks would be prohibited from operating. Whereas Johnson’s ordinance would bar food trucks from operating on Palafox Street between Garden and Main Streets, Bare’s proposal would prohibit them on Palafox from Garden south to (but not including) Plaza de Luna. Johnson’s ordinance would also restrict food trucks from parking within 20 feet of an intersection.

Bare’s ordinance would also create a separate permitting process for food truck rallies — gatherings of two or more food trucks — while Johnson’s proposal simply defers to the City’s existing special events permitting process.

Photo courtesy Hip Pocket Deli

Photo courtesy Hip Pocket Deli

Food truck advocates welcome change

“There’s probably a dozen creative food entrepreneurs willing to pay permit fees and operate responsibly within the city limits now,” said Pepper Dowdy, spokesperson for the Pensacola Food Truck Coalition.

Food truck owner Randy Russell is among those hoping the city council will act. Russell owns and operates the Nomadic Eats food truck, typically parking on Underwood Avenue near Pensacola State College, just over the city limits line. “I’m happy with my location I have now, but I would love to have the ability to do events and maybe late nights within the city limits,” said Russell. “I would just like to see the city open up to food trucks and support them.”

George Makris, owner of the Hip Pocket Deli food truck, agrees. “I would absolutely be interested in operating within city limits,” said Makris.

UPDATE: After reviewing both ordinances, representatives from the Pensacola Food Truck Coalition have told The Pulse that the group “fully supports” Johnson’s proposed ordinance, calling Bare’s ordinance “flawed.”

Read the ordinances for yourself

Bare’s ordinance:

Johnson’s ordinance:

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