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West Palm Beach Cracks Down on Food Trucks

The Fire Within will keep serving fire burgers until...?
The Fire Within will keep serving fire burgers until...?

It seems that the honeymoon phase between the City of West Palm Beach and food trucks is coming to an end. Palm Beach County is behind Miami in food trucks, but certain owners, most notably the Fire Within and Curbside Gourmet, have risen to the challenge of bringing the mobile eateries to the northern part of South Florida. 

There are also smaller food-truck roundups in Palm Beach County that feature local trucks like the weekly Dinner on Dixie.

Now it seems that zoning officials and lawmakers are seeking to crack down on the trucks in West Palm Beach. At the February 27 Mayor/Commission Work Session, West Palm Beach District Five Commissioner Bill Moss presented an agenda item asking for "enforcement

of mobile food vendors; business tax customers resent that the

mobile vendors do not pay property taxes and are taking the

revenue away from business owners; Mayor Muoio indicated that

Code Enforcement has been out by Flamingo Park; suggested

either making code stronger or create new regulations."


Other food-truck issues addressed at the work session included generator

noise, decreased revenue of restaurants because of food trucks, and

the formation of a food-truck-friendly zone where food trucks could park because,

as Commissioner Keith James said, it could be "a nice attraction." 

This

would come down to basically forming food-truck ghettos, no-man's-land

areas in Palm Beach County where there are no restaurants, where food

trucks would be allowed to park. 

Seth Bryan, who owns the Fire

Within food truck with his wife, Melissa, isn't too happy with the way

things are panning out. He's especially upset over Commissioner Moss'

reference to food trucks not paying their fair share of taxes. "People

are saying we don't pay taxes? We pay taxes on our commissary where we

prep the food every day, we pay taxes on gas and propane, we pay permit

fees. We pay the same taxes to do business as anyone," he told Clean Plate Charlie.

Bryan also said that he and owners of other food trucks have

recently been threatened by the zoning department with fines and even

arrest. "We're doing everything by the book," he says. "The police came and said

we weren't doing anything wrong."

Bryan says that the zoning

department now wants the food trucks to get event permits for each weekly food-truck roundup. At $500 per weekly event, that works out to

$26,000 in fees, an expense that could effectively kill these small

businesses.

Bryan says that for now, he plans to do business as

usual, gathering the support of his Twitter followers and the media. He also

said plans are in the works for a rally in support of food trucks. 

Clean

Plate Charlie has placed messages for West Palm Beach Mayor Jeri Muoio

and Commissioner Bill Moss, as neither could be reached for immediate comment.


Follow Clean Plate Charlie on Facebook and

on Twitter: @CleanPlateBPB.


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