BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. — Local mobile food vendors say an outdated ordinance is limiting business in Bonita Springs.
They say the City of Bonita Springs recently started cracking down on an ordinance that only allows five mobile food vendors to have a license at a time.
Without a mobile food vendors license, mobile businesses cannot legally operate within city limits.
"It wasn't until December of this past year that they started to enforce it very harshly because of some neighborhood complaints," said Steven Brown-Cestero.
Steven Brown-Cestero, the owner of The American Grilled Cheese Kitchen in Fort Myers, says this ordinance isn't just affecting his business; it's also taking a toll on others that benefit from food trucks.
Cestero says he had been setting up a food tent outside a local brewhouse in Bonita Spring since February.
"On my last Sunday there, someone came and took a bunch of pictures of me. I thought they were taking pictures of my menu to share with friends. It turns out they sent the pictures to code enforcement," said Cestero.
Cestero says he received a call in December from code enforcement informing him he could not operate without a mobile food vendor license.
Cestero already has a license through his restaurant and was initially told that was all he needed to operate; however, Cestero says he was later told he needed a mobile food vendors license.
"This has eliminated revenue of two to three thousand dollars a month," said Cestero. "Besides the food trucks themselves, those businesses that use the food trucks, whether it be a brewhouse, communities, or even businesses that set it up for their employees are no longer willing to set up the food trucks because they don't want to run afoul of the law."
"You know people have opinions about food trucks; mine are very positive. They are part of a thriving economy, they are a new way to do business in town," said Mayor Peter Simmons of Bonita Springs.
Bonita springs passed the mobile food vendors ordinance in 2012, but with a growing community, Mayor Simmons says it is time to review it.
"As a city of 55,000, that swells to over 70,000 this time of year, looking at expansion of food trucks or expansion of services, I think it's very ripe and timely," said Mayor Simmons.
The city does plan to discuss the ordinance during their upcoming city council meeting next week.