Deltona still working on recipe regulating when, where and how food truck vendors may operate

·6 min read
Deltona resident Josh Wiley owns a food truck business that specializes in gourmet potatoes. Wiley has attended recent city meetings to provide input on an ordinance the city is developing to address when and where mobile food vendors may set up shop in the city.
Deltona resident Josh Wiley owns a food truck business that specializes in gourmet potatoes. Wiley has attended recent city meetings to provide input on an ordinance the city is developing to address when and where mobile food vendors may set up shop in the city.

DELTONA — Four months after a workshop on regulations for food trucks, Volusia County's biggest city is still working on creating an ordinance everyone can roll with.

The City Commission voted unanimously during its most recent regular meeting to table the ordinance until March 21 after some commissioners, food truck owners and residents expressed dissatisfaction with the ordinance as proposed and the process of getting there.

"I apologize for you coming out this evening," Mayor Heidi Herzberg said following the two-hour discussion on Jan. 18. "We'll make it work for all of you."

Deltona's current stipulations for mobile food vendors are scant and outdated. The code refers to "street vendors" but doesn't get into specifics regarding the preparation and sale of food.

City staffers have been working on updating the ordinance since the commission directed Acting City Manager John Peters III to address food truck operations.

The state defines a mobile food-dispensing vehicle as "any vehicle that is a public food service establishment and that is self-propelled or otherwise movable from place to place and includes self-contained utilities, including, but not limited to, gas, water, electricity, or liquid waste disposal."

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One part of Deltona's code — charging a $20 fee to operate on a church's property — is no longer permissible because of legislation preempting local governments.

While municipalities may set their own rules and regulations regarding the operating of such businesses, they cannot ban them or require additional licensing or a business tax receipt.

The only license a food truck owner needs to operate in the state comes from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation or the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, according to the legislation that went into effect in July 2020.

City officials say safety is the main goal of the proposed ordinance, which — most notably to food truck owners — would restrict the number of food trucks allowed at one site as well as where trucks may set up for business.

Vendors who have shared their thoughts with the city have agreed on the importance of operating in a safe manner, something they've expressed they do whether it's one truck or multiple vendors.

Deltona's proposed ordinance requires that mobile food vendors provide a fire safety inspection report, a site plan and documented permission from the property owner.

"The intent of the site plan is to ensure these MFDVs (mobile food-dispensing vehicles) are appropriately located, don’t unduly burden a parking situation at the location they are situated or create safety challenges or internal flow problems," Ron Paradise, the city's community development director, said.

The site plan may be as simple as a printout of an aerial view of the property.

Deltona's ordinance also proposes:

  • limiting MFDVs to three types of commercially-zoned property and houses of worship

  • requiring MFDVs must set up on a paved portion of the property with active commercial use (vacant properties aren't permissible)

  • limiting the number of MFDVs allowed at one site (no more than one truck on less than 5 developed acres)

  • restricting hours of operation from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

The trucks cannot park within a right-of-way or within a certain distance of other combustible materials, nor may they discharge grease or oil into the city's utility system.

The ordinance would allow businesses with more than 100 full-time equivalent employees per eight-hour shift to host multiple food trucks.

Those permitted as part of a city-approved special event are exempt.

With food trucks growing in popularity for the past decade, municipalities across the country have taken to hosting regular events featuring multiple food trucks.

Deltona City Hall, 2345 Providence Blvd.
Deltona City Hall, 2345 Providence Blvd.

On Dec. 1 the city began its "Trucks and Tunes" event, an effort to support food truck vendors by inviting them to set up at City Hall for a few hours on most Wednesdays and Fridays.

Beginning the week of Jan. 24, food trucks on Fridays will set up at Wes Crile Park, and on the second Friday of each month, the trucks are invited to set up at The Center at Deltona for the Bonkerz Comedy shows.

Following the commission's workshop on food trucks on Sept. 27, staff revised the proposed ordinance to include allowing a parking space's worth of seating.

City Attorney Marsha Segal-George said staff has tried to maintain a dialogue with vendors following the workshop, but only one food truck owner attended a stakeholders' meeting on Nov. 10.

The Planning and Zoning Board on Dec. 15 voted 5-2 in favor of forwarding the ordinance to the City Commission with two members abstaining, both citing personal conflict.

'Back to the drawing board'

The commission agreed during the Jan. 18 meeting to give food truck owners another opportunity to have input as staff continues working on it.

"We need to give you one more chance, for those of you that didn’t get noticed, for whatever reason, there’s no reason to place blame anywhere either; let’s get the problem fixed," Commissioner Dana McCool said. "This is dragging on way too long and it’s causing too many frustrations, and it doesn’t need to."

A meeting to review the proposed regulations is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Those who are unable to attend may submit comments to Renee Cairney in building and enforcement services at rcairney@deltonafl.gov.

Part of the difficulty for the food truck owners has been scheduling.

Deltona resident Josh Wiley, owner of Fat Boi Gourmet Potatoes, said he canceled working at a Bethune-Cookman University event to attend the commission meeting.

"I came so that we could try to resolve this," Wiley said.

The Fat Boi Gourmet Eatz food truck sets up for a night of gourmet potatoes in New Smyrna Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 19.
The Fat Boi Gourmet Eatz food truck sets up for a night of gourmet potatoes in New Smyrna Beach on Wednesday, Jan. 19.

Wiley said he understands the city's desire to keep all parties safe.

"Safety is my biggest concern because the last thing I want is somebody to come patronize me and my business and get hurt," Wiley said.

Joel Dawson, owner of Brothers-N-Arms BBQ, also canceled a gig, which isn't an easy call for a small business owner to make.

"This is our way of living," Dawson said.

He also told the commission about the "Deltona Food Trucks" Facebook page he started for mobile food vendors to share information on where customers can find them.

Deltona resident Shannon McRoy, owner of Shannon's BBQ & Seafood, told the commission he felt like code compliance officers have unnecessarily hassled his business and given him conflicting information.

Herzberg said she was against "selective enforcement," a description that Peters said he despises.

"We are doing our level best," Peters said. "We have made a lot of inroads in cleaning up this city."

Peters said describing code compliance officers' work as "selective enforcement," "does not engender a positive image of the city."

"That infers that there’s some politicality or some nefarious reason why we are picking on these people instead of those people," Peters said.

Resident Adam Vazquez spoke in support of the food trucks.

He said he likes being able to pick up lunch during the week from the various vendors, especially since Deltona's dining options are limited.

"I’m not really understanding why you would restrict it, because there’s so many people who live here, and honestly, the food choices are awful," Vazquez said.

This article originally appeared on The Daytona Beach News-Journal: Deltona, food truck vendors still working on recipe for regulations