Tuesday, August 10, 2010
Carmel on the Case: Wheel Concerns
Mobile food trucks are popular almost everywhere. But not in the city of Miami, where they say they're getting the run-around. Investigator Reporter Carmel Cafiero is on the case.
WSVN -- Gourmet-style mobile food trucks are the hottest trend in fast food. They're a hit nationwide, and they're also rolling here in South Florida.
Raymond Delgado, Grill Master Cafe: "Everything here, you know, is, I do it from scratch. This is the new thing in Miami. I mean, we want to make Miami nice."
But ever since Grill Master Cafe took to the streets a few months ago, owner Raymond Delgado says he has been feeling the heat from the city of Miami.
Raymond Delgado: "Every time I park somewhere, I mean, they throw me out. They're, like, harassing me."
He says wherever he goes, code enforcement officers are not far behind.
As our camera rolled one morning, two code officers arrived and told Delgado he had to leave immediately. He had been there less than an hour and had just set up to serve lunch. Delgado had permission from the owner of the parking lot to be there, plus a license from the state, but it didn't matter.
Raymond Delgado: "You can't stand nowhere. Even though it's private property, they will not let you stand nowhere."
And Delgado's not alone.
Robert Peoples, Latin Burger & Taco: "From time to time, they come to us and say, 'You can't park here. You can't park here.'"
Robert Peoples manages Latin Burger & Taco and has had similar run-ins with the city.
Robert Peoples: "I was at the Miami Arena. They ran us off. I was at 86th and Biscayne. They ran us off. Certain places in Miami, they are saying, we can't park."
Both Grill Master and Latin Burger have what's called a Mobile Food Dispensing Vehicle License issued by the state of Florida. That means their trucks, and the food they serve, are subject to state inspection.
Robert Peoples: "I mean, what are we going to do? You got all these licenses, but you can't stop nowhere. They say, 'You need to drive and stop, drive and stop.'"
And the city says, that's the law.
Sergio Guadix, Miami Code Enforcement Director: "They are not being told they can't be a mobile food dispensing operation. They can be, but that's exactly what they have to be, a mobile food dispensing operation. Mobile means not stationary. They need to keep on moving."
Sergio Guadix is Miami's code enforcement director. He says, vendors are allowed to remain in one place only long enough to sell to waiting customers. Then, they must drive away.
Sergio Guadix: "What the trucks are taking it to be is, well, I'm going to sit here and stay all day and make my sales, and this will be my place of business. They can't do that."
Food truck owners say they can't stop, set up, make a sale and then take off. It isn't practical. And they say, what about all the hot dog carts? They're on wheels but stay put all day, everyday. The city says, it's not the same thing.
Sergio Guadix: "They have wheels, but they are not motor vehicles that are set up for that. They are stationary carts that are set up to be in a specific place."
The food truck operators think it is unfair.
Raymond Delgado: "I want to be like everybody, and I want to make a living."
Robert Peoples: "I would like to see them give us a chance to operate our business in peace."
But in order to do that, the city says the law will have to change.
Sergio Guadix: "If they want to change that ordinance, I would love for them to go to city hall, have that ordinance amended. But it is not amended. We have to go by that ordinance."
Carmel Cafiero: "An easier option for the food trucks would be to set up outside the city. But each city and each county has its own set of rules and regulations, so these entrepreneurs on wheels need to not only drive carefully but park carefully as well."
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