Food trucks have become a fun, popular, and often necessary addition to many South Florida outdoor events over the last several years. Many brick and mortar restaurants have added a food truck or two to remain competitive and to get their product out to the many festivals and social outdoor events. But many loyal patrons do not realize the heavy regulations and costs that are put on food truck operators by government overregulation.
Trying to navigate the maze of government agencies that a business must either get a license or get inspected by can be overwhelming. For example, in Palm Beach County one must get permission (a permit) from the Division of Hotels & Restaurants, the Department of Engineering, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (you know, the agency that issues concealed weapons permits). If the food truck will serve in a county park, they need permission from Palm Beach County Parks and Recreation Department, Department of Engineering, and the Division of Hotels & Restaurants. Then if they are serving inside the city limits of most of the 38 cities, they need the city’s permission and/or inspection. And then, most times, food trucks are often told they cannot be within a certain number of yards of a brick and mortar restaurant or other instances where they can only park in an area for two hours. They are often shoed off by code enforcement or police.
It can be daunting, to say the least, for any operator of a food truck. I realized this personally a little over a year ago when a vegan food truck was up for sale. I looked at all the regulations and said, “No, thank you.” It is just this overregulation of an industry that keeps people from opening a business and staying open because of the cost and trouble of complying with the overlapping regulations. In addition, food truck operators must prepare their food in advance at a commercial kitchen, which is an additional cost if the food truck is not already connected to a brick and mortar restaurant.
It is clear either the State of Florida or the counties need to do a better job of streamlining the regulation of food trucks as the residents want them around and not out of business due to the heavy costs of regulation.
Trying to get some food truck operators on the record for comment about the heavy regulation of their businesses was impossible as they all feared retribution from one of the many government agencies they must abide by. Fortunately, the Institute for Justice (IJ) has been helping food truck operators around the country fight some of this overregulation and hopefully, they will take up the issue here in South Florida. In 2015, IJ was helping with an initiative in Miami, Florida; however, the non-profit they had partnered with is no longer operating.