Issues with Fort Lauderdale code enforcement may have put a damper on one of the city’s longest-running food-truck rallies, but it didn’t stop it from happening.
Broward County based food-truck vendors have been gathering at the southwest corner of Cypress Creek and Powerline roads for a year without any trouble said Brett Chiavari, owner of the BC Tacos truck based in Fort Lauderdale.
But on Wednesday, city code enforcers and the Fire Marshall’s Office were on site to inspect trucks and issue warnings to those who were operating without the proper licenses, said Matt Little, spokesman for the city of Fort Lauderdale
Chiavari has been selling gourmet tacos from his truck at the empty lot attached to the Marble of the World property with what he thought was the proper vendor license for an entire year. But on Tuesday, after an article about the weekly food truck rally ran in the Sun Sentinel, he was approached by city code enforcement.
“I was issued a warning by code enforcement on Tuesday when I arrived for the lunch hour,” Chiavari said. “They told me they saw a story in the Sun Sentinel about the roundup and will be back to see if I’m here Wednesday.”
To celebrate the weekly truck event’s anniversary, 10 food trucks gathered at the usual spot and donated a portion of the money made to the St. Baldrick’s Foundation, a charity devoted to helping fight childhood cancer. Chiavari arrived expecting to have to pay a $150 citation for going against code enforcement.
Chiavari said he signed a lease agreement to sell food as a vendor with Charlie Urso, owner of the Marble of the World, a stone distribution company that owns the property. But city officials say that’s not enough.
All street vendors must have one of three licenses issued by the city:
A mobile vendors license, which most ice cream trucks use to sell goods and move on to new locations;.
A stationary vending license to sell goods from a specific location approved by the city’s planning and zoning division;
A special outdoor event agreement, which allows vendors to sell at a public event one time for a $100 fee. Outdoor agreements are purchased through Fort Lauderdale’s Parks & Recreation Department.
Chiavari didn’t have to pay a fine, but was instead instructed to get a special outdoor agreement, which enforcers said would be valid for three months. BC Tacos has a mobile vendors license, and if it isn’t changed this week, the Wednesday night roundup won’t be able to continue next week.
“I was told when I applied for the stationary license that the zoning division wouldn’t approve it because the corner of Cypress Creek and Powerline roads is an industrial area,” he said.
Fort Lauderdale records show that Chiavari never applied for the stationary license, and was warned about serving food at the same spot eight months ago, Little said.
“This is a public safety issue. The aim of our ordinance is to protect the public,” Little said.
“The city of Fort Lauderdale is committed to ensuring compliance through vigilance, education and proactive enforcement.”
This isn’t the first time food truck operators have had trouble in Fort Lauderdale.
Joseph Basine, owner of the Big Kahuna ice cream truck, has struggled with cities in Broward County to allow him to serve ice cream at events or on city streets for months.
“The trucks are more accepted down in Miami,” Basine said. “There are few places I can go in Broward.”
The original Fort Lauderdale ordinance pertaining to food trucks was established in 1953, Little said. Revisions were made in 1985 and 1993.
“The rules are outdated and aren’t meant to encompass food trucks,” Chiavari said. “There are cities out there like Austin and Portland that embrace the trucks, not limit them. I don’t see why Fort Lauderdale can’t be like that.”