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Cape food truck ordinance up for final vote

Council set to hold second public hearing today at City Hall

By CHUCK BALLARO - | Jan 25, 2023

Cape Coral City Council is expected to decide today whether to impose regulations to eliminate “food truck based outdoor restaurants” while also establishing a new land use in the city for food truck parks.

The controversial ordinance set for its second and final public hearing has been in the works for nearly a year with the measure gaining support from council after staff redrafted the city’s proposed Mobile Food Vehicles code to be similar to Lee County’s regulations.

As proposed, the city’s new regulations would treat all MFVs alike (except ice cream trucks), requiring them to leave their service locations at night and remove any gear. Seating areas, tented or not, would not be allowed, nor would the regulations allow on-site utility connections.

A new use, Mobile Food Court, would allow “Food Truck Parks.” Such parks would require full site improvements including bathrooms, parking, sidewalks and the like. They are intended to accommodate regular and long-term deployment of food trucks with the proposed regulations patterned after those adapted from Bonita Springs.

The regulations would exempt vehicles operating at a private event for a duration less than one day, vehicles operating as part of a special event or during a state of emergency.

If approved, the ordinance would go into effect 90 days after adoption to allow for communication and outreach to MFV operators who would need to come into compliance with the new regulations.

The operation of Mobile Food Vehicles requires licensing by the state. According to state licensing records, there are approximately 222 city-based vendors with approximately 66 providing a city location for their truck. The city could not say how many food trucks would be affected should the ordinance pass.

The city’s Office of Communications could not provide a number when asked how many such businesses are currently operating in the city, saying that information was not readily available and a public records request was necessary. A public records request for a listing of food trucks included all enterprises with a catering designation for the city’s business tax.

“We don’t have a report for just food trucks,” the City Clerk’s Office said via email.

In other business:

• Council will consider an ordinance that would establish economic development ad valorem tax exemptions which Cape Coral voters gave the authority to grant Economic Development Ad Valorem Tax Exemptions in a Nov. 8, referendum.

The city seeks to encourage new commercial development, expand existing businesses and new job creation and seeks opportunities to become more business friendly. The city is looking to add to its 8 percent business tax base.

The city seeks to provide economic incentives in furtherance of the municipal purpose of inducing employment and investment within the city and expanding economic activity within its jurisdictional borders.

• Council will consider an ordinance to abolish the Cape Coral Construction Regulation Board, which the city put in place as the regulatory body for contractors and violations brought by the city against licensed contractors.

Due to the change in Florida law, the city will abolish the board as of June 30.

•  Council will hear the quarterly report from the Youth Council and consider a resolution to approve the 2023 state legislative platform.

The Wednesday meeting will begin at 4:30 p.m. at City Hall, 1015 Cultural Park Blvd.