Neighborhoods, Community Investments and Services Committee

Food Truck Workshop Minutes

June 8, 2017



Topic: Food truck policies

Location: Lynwood Roberts Room, 1st floor, City Hall – St. James Building, 117 West Duval Street

In attendance: Council Members Scott Wilson (Chair), Reggie Brown, Reggie Gaffney, and Bill Gulliford

Also: Kim Taylor – Council Auditor’s Office; Jason Teal – Office of General Counsel; Colleen Hampsey  – Council Research Division; Juliette Williams – Legislative Services Division

Panel: Aundra Wallace  – Downtown Investment Authority; Jake Gordon – Downtown Vision Inc.; Representatives of the Downtown Restaurant Association, Representatives of the Jax Truckies Food Truck Association

See attached sign-in sheet for additional attendees.

Meeting Convened: 3:04 pm

Council Member Scott Wilson began the meeting with introductions and then explained the agenda. Jason Teal, Office of General Counsel, discussed the portions of Chapter 250 (Miscellaneous Business Regulations), Ordinance Code which pertain to mobile food vending (food trucks). This ordinance was amended in 2014 after several noticed meetings with the public, mobile food vendors, restaurant owners and City Staff. The intent of the food truck legislation was to allow both the food truck owners and the established restaurant industry to co-exist without negative financial impact to the other. Some of the current Downtown food truck regulations include: location no closer than 50 feet from a permanent establishment selling food, hours of operation in the Downtown area are unlimited but parking on any City RightofWay or metered parking space is prohibited.



Colleen Hampsey, Council Research Division, presented some background research about municipal food truck policy differences. When looking at other cities, the main policy differences for food truck regulations across localities are: the distances the trucks may operate from brick and mortar restaurants (most are 50-200 feet), specific zoning ordinances for locations, hours of operation, and whether the food trucks may use the same location each day. Some cities cap the amount of food truck licenses and have a lottery process to apply for new ones. While food trucks may create less direct revenue to cities, advocates argue that the presence of mobile food vendors, especially downtown, energizes the food scene as a whole through innovation. Additionally, there is often industry crossover, wherein restaurants owners will sometimes expand into food trucks and food truck owners build enough capital to open brick and mortar establishments.

Valerie Williams, Consumer Affairs Manager, spoke briefly about City of Jacksonville Office of Consumer Affairs which handles permits, licenses and business tax receipts for the mobile food vendors. Councilman Reggie Brown asked about the differences between food truck regulations in parks, in contrast to downtown, and about the rules regarding the use of parking meters. Jason Teal explained that according to the current ordinance, food trucks may not use metered parking, although after 6:00 pm meters are not enforced. Councilman Gulliford asked about the somewhat daunting permitting process for using public parks and suggested that it might be simplified or streamlined. When asked about the onerous process restaurants owners face when applying to have outdoor seating/sidewalk cafes, Mr. Wallace, Downtown Investment Authority, indicated that the policy needs to be reviewed.

Members of the panel then discussed their differing perspectives on the strengths and weaknesses of the current food truck ordinance. Some of the restaurant association representatives contend that the 50 foot distance requirement is too close and proposed extending it (possibly to 300 feet). Jake Gordon, Downtown Vision Inc., offered to create a downtown map that shows all of the brick and mortar restaurants. Members of the panel who collaborated on the 2014 food truck ordinance reminded the group that during that process, varying distances had been measured and it was determined that 300 feet would so severely limit where food trucks could locate that it was rejected for being unfeasible. One of the restaurant association members spoke in opposition to the urban food court on Hogan Street, where 3-4 trucks operate during lunch downtown. 

With a small downtown residential population (~4000), competition for employee based lunchtime consumers (48,000 working in the North and South banks) is high. It was also suggested that the number of food trucks operating in the downtown area could be limited, in the interest of fairness to the approximately 80 downtown restaurants. An estimated ten food trucks are working in the downtown area, on average. The food truck association representatives do not see a need for changes in the ordinance, and argued that limiting the amount of food trucks would be perceived as protectionism in favor of one industry over another.  All parties affirmed their commitment to the city, particularly to the revitalization of downtown.

Councilmen Wilson, Gaffney and Brown said that the food truck ordinance should be examined by smaller groups, possibly two (downtown policies and parks/citywide policies) or three groups (downtown, parks and citywide). A possible meeting date of June 22nd, was proposed for the next workshop to be either in groups or as a whole. Councilman Wilson thanked everyone for coming and making an effort to work together despite differing viewpoints.


Meeting Adjourned: 4:54 pm

Minutes: Colleen Hampsey, Council Research (904) 630-1498

            6.9.17   Posted 12:00 p.m.