ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -
The food truck craze is alive and kicking. But the City of St. Petersburg is taking the slow-cooker approach to giving blanket approval to the popular trend.
"I think we've got a downtown that is thriving with the brick and mortar restaurants as we have them. I don't see how food trucks contribute at all to the revenue base," councilman Jim Kennedy Said.
At a committee meeting this morning, with food truck and restaurant owners in the crowd, it became apparent there is no concensus among council members on how the city should tackle the issue.
From permits to property taxes and fees, the council discussed buffer zones, grease traps and business owners.
Councilwoman Leslie Curran thinks that there's got to be a compromise that allows the city to not be viewed as unfriendly to business.
Although not permitted to speak at the meeting, the vendors had plenty to say after.
"There seems to be a lot of ignorance and fear. And I think it's fear from the unknown," said Sam Dudding who owns a food truck.
Food truck vendor Debbie Guy pointed out, "This is not your daddy's roach-coach anymore."
One of the major sticking points is allowing the trucks to operate in the downtown core where restaurants are plentiful. Steve Westphal owns 400 Beach and other downtown eateries, and he believes that food trucks can coexist with the restaurants.
"The food trucks for downtown in St. Petersburg will enhance the dining environment. It's not the restaurants against the food trucks. It's how do we all find a way to work together," Westphal explained.
One area of compromise that may come in to play between the city and the food trucks is the Grand Central District.
Margaret Lofler, another food truck owner thinks there's plenty of untapped areas to operate in.
"They're not looking at the other areas of the city like grand Central and the Art districts and other areas that don't have a lot of restaurants and need to have some of the economic development happen in that area," said Lofler.
The discussion will continue with public input next month.
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After another round of rough weather, things will be much quieter through the holiday weekend.