Bonita Springs council to look at limiting mobile food vendors in city

William DeShazer/Staff 
 Customers wait in line to place an order as Rick Price, top left, owner and operator of Hungry Hound Dawgs in Bonita Springs, serves up an order on Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. Price has been running Hungry Hound Dawgs since July 2012.

Photo by WILLIAM DESHAZER, Naples Daily News // Buy this photo

William DeShazer/Staff Customers wait in line to place an order as Rick Price, top left, owner and operator of Hungry Hound Dawgs in Bonita Springs, serves up an order on Wednesday Feb. 13, 2013. Price has been running Hungry Hound Dawgs since July 2012.

The Bonita Springs City Council meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 9101 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs.

— Proposed regulations for mobile food vendors in Bonita Springs could drive Rick Price out of business.

“I am not adversarial with the city. I just want every vendor that wants to come here to be able to do so unimpeded,” said Price, 54, owner of Hungry Hound Dawgs, a food truck vendor at a regular location on Old 41 Road and Abernathy Street in Bonita Springs. “Anytime government starts getting involved with businesses, business is going to suffer.”

Bonita Springs staff is slated to ask City Council on Wednesday to adopt a proposed amendment, which includes mobile food vendors, to the city’s land development code. Council is scheduled to discuss establishing hours and days of operation. If approved, the ordinance would go into effect 30 days after adoption.

Currently, there is no limit on how many food vendor licenses are granted in the city, nor their times of operation, location and size.

Among the proposed 13 regulations is one to limit the number of permits issued to mobile vendors to five.

“What we are trying to do is create minimum regulations for mobile vendors so that they remain truly mobile in nature and be sensitive to the preservation of our brick-and-mortar businesses,” said Arleen Hunter, Bonita Springs’ director of development services.

But some mobile food vendors disagree.

“I don’t know how mobile food vendors could be taking away business from restaurants. We don’t serve anywhere near the same food,” said Price, who offers hot dogs and sausages from his red truck. “If anything, we are bringing in people to Bonita Springs and showing people what Bonita Springs has to offer.”

Among other mobile food vendors in operation recently in Bonita Springs was a taco truck along Old 41 Road, adjacent to Buffalo Chips Restaurant. The truck shared the parking space of the restaurant during the weekends.

The ordinance change will provide an exception for mobile food vendors, such as Price, who received city permission before January if they have made significant improvements to the property — at least $10,000 in site improvements. Those mobile food vendors could remain on the site for eight years from adoption of the ordinance. Then, the city’s community development director could grant a two-year extension to the property owner.

If the proposed amendment is approved, Hunter said, existing vendors would have to comply with the new rules. In Price’s case, he would have to be more mobile in nature.

Even though Price, a licensed mobile food vendor who opened in July 2012 and pays rent for his spot, could be grandfathered in with the proposed ordinance, he said it would be difficult with the eight-year phase-out looming. Hungry Hound Dawgs is open 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. In addition, Price also drives his truck to serve his food at local events.

Hunter said staff was asked by council to provide information on how other jurisdictions regulate the hours of operation and number of days on a specific site.

Unincorporated Lee County generally doesn’t permit parked food trucks and carts, other than through temporary-use permits for special events, said Joan LaGuardia, the community department’s communication manager.

The exception is in Lehigh Acres, where mobile food vendors may apply for an annual permit.

In unincorporated Lee County, truly mobile food vendors, such as ice cream trucks, are allowed.

The proposed Bonita Springs regulations aren’t intended to regulate mobile food vendors that are making stops at various locations frequently. The proposed regulations also wouldn’t affect special events, such as food festivals. Moreover, there is a separate ordinance that regulates farmers markets.

Hunter said private events that have permits wouldn’t be limited to the number of food vendors that they have, but private events are temporary in nature and are time-certain of when the event starts and ends.

“I just prefer to be at one spot for my regular customers all the time,” said Price, an East Naples resident and veteran who said he enjoys talking to people and serving good food.

The Bonita Springs City Council meets at 9 a.m. Wednesday at City Hall, 9101 Bonita Beach Road, Bonita Springs.

© 2013 marconews.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Discuss
  • Print

Related Stories

Related Links

Comments » 2

mewillandale writes:

I personally feel that a "Mobile" food truck needs to be "Mobile" Nothing against the hot dog guy but his trailer is considered "Permanent" to me because it is parked there 99.9% of each and every day and on off hours, it is just locked up and never moved. This is a complete competitive advantage to others who have the overhead of brick and mortar and a huge property tax loophole.

If it going to reside there during non operational hours, then it is a permanent structure and needs to conform to the proper building codes and not port-a-potty.

I also believe it is an eyesore to the neighboring properties therefore hindering any redevelopment possibility. If we allow run down structures and temporary facilities, Old 41 will continue to look like a sewer hole.

Sorry if this is harsh but, what is going on is wrong. I would love to operate my business from a trailer. I would save a ton on taxes.

Craigcoop writes:

"It is beyond the scope of Government to protect one LEGAL business against another!" The mobile vendor id licensed, legal and inspected by the State of Florida (DBPR) He is MOBILE..Can he hook up and park, Yes. Can he disconnect and leave? Yes. This is the very definition of MOBILE!!! A snowbird wit and RV can park for extended periods of time??? Are the hotels screaming for them to be shut down???? Brick and Mortars.. Stop crying and put out a better product!!! You probably own a lease anyway... mobile guy owns everything....He made the investment.. Unless you own your building outright....Shut Up and compete......

Craig Cooper
Gourmet on the way!!!

"BEYOND THE SCOPE OF GOVERNMENT"

Share your thoughts

Comments are the sole responsibility of the person posting them. You agree not to post comments that are off topic, defamatory, obscene, abusive, threatening or an invasion of privacy. Violators may be banned. Click here for our full user agreement.

Comments can be shared on Facebook and Yahoo!. Add both options by connecting your profiles.

Features