City: food trucks are not banned

Blog wrap-up:

We got in touch with City of Miami Zoning Administrator  Barnaby L. Min, who clarified the city's new food trucks rules. Here's a summary of what he had to say: 

If food truck operators want to continue with their current practice of weekly gatherings at specific locations in the City of Miami, they will have to obtain a permit for each event, and if they want to extend how many times a permit can be used, they'll have to get a waiver from the City Commission.

The trucks can obtain these "Special Event" permits to hold gatherings on public or private land. However, the permits, which cost $153.50 each time they are used, can only be extended two times a year for events on private property and 10 times a year for events on public property.

Food truck operators can seek a waiver from the City Commission allowing them to extend the amount of times a permit can be used. To begin that process, they should approach their city commissioner.

Another option available to the trucks for their events is to use a vacant lot and obtain a "Temporary Use of Vacant Land Permit." As the city's press release explains, this can only be used for events on truly vacant, unused properties. The permit is given for six month periods, which can be extended for up to two years.

Again, the time limit of the permit can be waived by the City Commission.

Trucks cannot operate in places where they do not have a permit, unless they have a peddlers license, which requires them to be constantly moving between sales. 

Also, we received an email from Miami-Dade spokesperson Hilda Castillo, who confirmed to us what she had told New Times - the county is working on its own set of rules which should be introduced soon. Her statement:

"There are currently no specific provisions in the Zoning Code to allow for the food truck round-ups. Round-ups could be allowed under the provisions of Section 33-13(g) of the Code which address short term events such as carnivals and circuses. Staff is currently working on a draft ordinance that would provide specific provisions for food truck round-ups."

The Herald will have a full story on this issue for Sunday, check back here then for more.   (Note: the article was held, but it should be published this week)



4:43 p.m 

We just spoke with Barnaby L. Min, Zoning Administrator for the City of Miami. His basic message: The trucks will not be "banned" or prohibited from operating, they just have to follow the right procedures.

We're working on a post with Minn's explanation of those procedures. More soon.


4:10 p.m.

Miami New Times writer Laine Doss blogged about the new regulations, and contacted a county spokesperson that offered some clarity as to what the rules apply to the trucks.

According to the county spokesperson Hilda Castillo, “even if a property owner grants permission to these truckers, several permits must be pulled including a building permit application for short term use, professional certification for a short term event, and a certificate of use for a short term event. In addition, a Miami-Dade Police Department permit may also be required.”

According to Doss, the total amount for these fees could amount to approximately $700 per event. 

Read more at Miami New Times


3:00 p.m.

The Coconut Grove Grapevine has criticized the city today in several posts and their blog has categorized the situation as “a civil rights issue.” 

Falco wonders how (or why) the city would prohibit a private parking lot owner from hosting the food truck gatherings and suggests that the gourmet truck operators, “go after the City in court."

Read more at Coconut Grove Grapevine


7:00 a.m.

  News analysis: The press release issued by the City of Miami yesterday (Thursday, March 11) on how city code applies to food trucks seems to effectively ban the weekly food truck gatherings that have caught on throughout the city over the last year.

The release was issued after city officials and code enforcement reviewed the current code to determine how it should apply to the trucks. No new regulations have been recently established, according to city spokesperson Cristina Fernandez.

The rules the city has established for the trucks could force them to change how, when, and where they operate. 

The release establishes three ways that the trucks can operate within the City of Miami:

- Obtain a peddler’s license. This requires the food trucks to be constantly moving, which is not how the trucks operate and would be impossible at any event.  

- Obtain a temporary use/special event permit. These permits are issued to operators on private property only two times per year, which would rule out using them for weekly events. 

- Obtain a Temporary Use of Vacant Land Permit. The release says these permits can only be used for vacant land, which does not include parking lots, where most of the events are held. 

It also says that these permits, “allow operators to have food trucks for six months,” and be “extended in six month increments for a total of two years.”  

We’re gathering more reactions and analysis, and have asked for an interview with City Code Enforcement Director Sergio Guadix. We’ll update as more information becomes available. 



Thursday, March 10

4:20 p.m.

We're waiting for responses and will update the once we have enough. If there is a side to this story that you want us to pursue or you have opinions you want to share, please let us know via email or in the comments section.  

4:10 p.m.

We contacted the City of Miami's Department of Communications to follow-up on two questions submitted by Twitter user @MiamiFoodTrucks in the comments section of this article, and expect a reply by tomorrow.

The questions were:

"What is the penalty for violation of this Zoning Ordinance? A ticket?"

"Also does this mean that the many catering trucks in and around miami are also affected by this?"

If there are other questions that you'd like us to ask the city about new regulations, email them to editor@openmediamiami or leave them in the comments section, just as @MiamiFoodTrucks did. 

4:00 p.m.

Jack Garabedian, the owner of the Jefe's Original truck and a vocal defender of the "industry", takes issue with the city's comparison of food trucks and ice cream trucks. He believes that the requirement that the trucks "continuously be moving," could be dangerous.

"Why are we considered to be ice cream trucks?" he said when reached by phone. "We're not. We're food trucks. Ice cream trucks don't have friers. If you drive and cook around with that, it's pretty dangerous. It defeats the whole purpose."  

3:25 p.m.

Willy Banks, owner of Blue Willy’s BBQ, said he is surprised the city would place such stringent regulations on food trucks, which he sees as an affordable option for people who want to eat out. 

“The city has their hands out for more licensing money,” he said. 

He recently visited San Francisco, a city with a thriving food truck industry  that he says has less regulations, and he thinks Miami should adopt a similar approach. 

 2:55 p.m.:

The City of Miami released a press released on Monday March 10, detailing the Food Truck City Zoning Ordinance terms. We’re working to get reactions from the food truck operators, patrons, business owners and others affected, but here’s the release in full:

Miami, FL March 10, 2011)— Accordingly, food trucks can be operated one of three ways in the City:

1. An operator can obtain a peddler’s license. This requires the food truck to continuously be moving and only stop when an actual transaction is taking place. Once the transaction is concluded, the food truck must move again. Ice cream trucks are the prime example of food trucks with peddler’s licenses.

2. An operator can obtain a Temporary Use/Special Event Permit. These permits are issued to operators on private property two times per year, a maximum of two weeks each (4 weeks total). On public property, ten permits, two weeks each (20 weeks total) can be issued. These time limitations are strictly enforced and can only be waived upon an affirmative vote of the City Commission.

 3. An operator can obtain a Temporary Use of Vacant Land Permit. These permits allow operators to have food trucks for six months. The permits can be extended in six month increments for a total of two years. In order to obtain this type of permit, the property must be VACANT. Parking lots and abandoned properties are not considered vacant. There cannot be anything on the actual property and no active uses in order to obtain this permit.

For the more information call (305) 416-1491.

The applications are also available online at http://www.miamigov.com/Zoning/pages/