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In a Reversal, Flagler Beach Will Consider New Regulations for Roving Street Vendors

| April 26, 2012

Sandy Kinney has been selling ice cream in Flagler Beach from her truck, but she's triggered recurring movement on the Flagler Beach City Commission to regulate the practice. (FlaglerLive)

Roving vendors on wheels in Flagler Beach may soon be regulated by new city rules, although “soon” is, as always, a debatable term when timetables of the Flagler Beach City Commission are in play.

Commissioners agreed unanimously Thursday evening to have their city manager and city attorney draft either a new ordinance or new licensing rules that would define where, how and how often roving vendors would be allowed to operate in the city–and which type would be banned. Thursday’s decision reverses what amounted to a  non-decision two months ago that, after one commissioner’s attempt to start regulating vendors, foundered in the face of intense opposition. That opposition was largely absent Thursday. (Most of the people in the audience had turned up for a later issue: bonfires on the beach.)

You can buy ice cream from roving ice cream trucks in Flagler Beach these days, as you can in the rest of the county and its other cities. Sandy Kinney and her ice cream truck make the rounds from time to time. She also sells at Flagler Beach’s special events such as First Fridays. It doesn’t make local ice cream shops happy: they’ve invested in their locations, paid their business licensing fees and developed their clientele, which they see undermined by a roving ice cream truck. But many other businesses saw no issue with the roving truck, seeing it as part of the local business fabric that adds overall activity rather than subtracts from it.

Back in February The Flagler Beach City Commission attempted to regulate roving vendors, with Kinney’s  ice cream truck as the focus (or pretext). Commission Chairman Jane Mealy supported an amendment to a city ordinance that would have forbidden roving trucks from operating in the city’s right-of-ways.

Kinney  organized a very effective campaign that defeated the move for additional regulation, essentially leaving city code as it is: silent on the matter of roving food vendors. But Mealy predicted the matter would be back for discussion.

On Thursday, it was. City Commissioner Steve Settle brought it back in the form of a new proposal: roving vendors would be allowed everywhere except along State Road A1A and in the area of the city known as its CRA—its Community Redevelopment Agency, which is another term for its downtown area, where the city has focused investment to beautify and revive it.

“This is purely public safety,” Settle says. “The idea is not to have mobile vendors stopping along those types of roadways,” he said, so there’d be no risk to foot traffic.

Some commissioners bought into the idea, but only as far as State Road A1A was concerned—not downtown, where, Commissioner Kim Carney said, “I would think that that’s the most desirable area for any type of vending.” Linda Provencher, the mayor, didn’t like the specificity of Settle’s approach. And Mealy stood by what she’d said in February, opposing the notion of roving vendors not quite on safety grounds.

“I just don’t think this is something that’s for Flagler Beach,” Mealy said, citing the risk of opening the way for all sorts of mobile vendors to start streaming into the city. Vendors are popular in big cities, she said. They’ll be trickling down into smaller cities. “I don’t think that was the vision of what Flagler Beach was supposed to look like.”  She added:  “I just want to make it clear it’s not just about the ice cream truck.”

This time there were far fewer people in the audience: almost half the room was empty, as opposed to the February meeting when the room was full. Last time the public was not allowed to speak, because the commission was not voting on the matter—or, rather, did not vote. But the floor was opened for comment this time, including to Kinney.

“I have had no safety issue, I’ve been all over the city, and I personally would not go on A1A and I would not go on 100, because it’s not safe.” But, she said, she has many customers in the downtown area, and would not want to lose them. A few other people spoke, mostly in support of keeping matters as they are. One person suggested a middle ground, but without specifics.

“I’m in favor of vendors,” Commissioner Joy McGrew said, but she was willing to look at a possible ordinance regulating food trucks. Commissioner Marshall Shupe doesn’t oppose ice cream trucks and their like, but he’s categorically opposed to letting vendors hawking such things as watches stop in town, open their trunk and sell.

“A lot of the concerns that occurred could be somewhat addressed through the licensing,” Drew Smith, the city’s attorney, said by way of suggestions after the commissioners had had their say. The amount of time trucks set up in a single spot could be limited. Tonnage could be regulated. Even safety could be a legitimate reason to regulate the trucks, because, Smith said, “it’s the possibility of having a whole bunch of vendors in the city” that’s being addressed.

Settle floated a proposal: have the city manager come up with a  permitting or licensing structure that would regulate the activities the commission was discussing–“what kind of food truck would be allowed,” Settle explained, “what kind of licensing would be allowed, to give us a discussion piece that we could tear apart.” That’s what the commission agreed to.

It doesn’t mean the regulations will be approved, of course: such things move at a very slow pace in Flagler Beach. But it appears clear that for now, the commission is ready to move from no regulation to some regulation of roving vendors.

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7 Responses for “In a Reversal, Flagler Beach Will Consider New Regulations for Roving Street Vendors”

  1. says:

    what pett;y garbage ,do something that is more important to the community or maybe the;y do not have the intelligence to attack more challenging issues

  2. Anonymous says:

    It sounds like Flagler Beach has commissioners that don’t know what they are doing. Either regulate it or don’t and move on. Right now, the town doesn’t have a problem with lots of vendors driving around in their vans. So why are we worrying about this? How about worrying about more important things. Like property values and jobs.

  3. Marjorie says:

    Yah for Sandy! Yes it is a shame time had to be wasted on such a matter, but when those in leadership put their personal opinions above what is best for the community (business owners and residents) this is what happens. Sandy is a single mother trying to provide for her family and as a single mom myself, I support her fully, although I could not be there for her last night, and will continue to help her in this fight. This is for the future of all entreprenurial street vendors in this city.

  4. Art Woosley says:

    Out of touch bureaucracy is alive and well in little old Flagler Beach, once again our commission fails to grasp what is in the BEST INTEREST of our city and it’s residents.

    As normal they continue to work shop, and committee things to death simply to avoid making the dreaded YES or NO vote on important issues which effect all of us. Maybe we should now consider putting everything on a city ballot for our residents to decide the outcome, because so often they appear unable to make the hard decisions needed by our community ( Bonfires on the Beach for ex. ) ?

    Of course, common sense tells one that roving vendors / peddlers would be a serious hazard for the children especially so with ice cream vendors, as children can easily dart out between parked vehicles once seeing or hearing such a vehicle stop . Also keep in mind that food vendors will come complete with wrappers/ napkins, paper cups etc. all of which will undoubtedly place an additional work load on city employees to pick up the mess.

    We must not forget that some of these, are also the same elected officials who regularly bend over backwards appearing always to be so concerned about accommodating the favor of the local Chamber Of Commerce ?

    The same officials by the way who brought in short term rentals, rentals that served to hurt our local Motels and B&Bs, restaurants etc. when in fact like this issue we have no adequate code enforcement in place to handle it ?

    Before opening up this particular can of worms, did they think to ask the Golden Lion for example, how they would feel if a vendor started selling fish sandwiches and drinks outside their business, or Joseph’s Pizza when the pizza vendor shows up in front of their shop, or the hot dog business owners etc. this is all so ludicrous ?

    Instead of doing their job for you the people who reside here in the community by simply saying NO to peddlers as they should have done,they simply catered to others who do not even reside here, nothing new there. As a result of their inability to just say NO, your commission has once again decided to spend even more of your tax dollars (attorney time is expensive), and possibly hundreds of hours of staff time on this poorly conceived decision.

    In other words, they will now have staff attempt to draft new rules and regulations to yet another problem of their making, one like so many others out there which will never be enforced, as past practice clearly shows we currently have little to no enforcement on other important issues as it is.

    In short, this is another bad decision on the commissions part, one which will not help our city one iota, but instead will only serve to further downgrade both the cities environment and it’s safety. When if ever, will they learn our city needs to bring in revenue, not squander it on worrying about such things as roving vendors etc.etc. ?

  5. notasenior says:

    What about the businesses who operate out of fixed locations? They pay property taxes or rent and don’t have the luxury of “blowing with the wind.” Mobile vendors do have a place but shouldn’t be allowed to operate unregulated to the detriment of fixed based operators.

  6. dyan says:

    Archie Bunker is alive and well and living in Flagler Beach and he brought his buddies, females included!!! Hearing the approach of an ice cream truck brought a smile to my face as a child and the opportunity to see my grandchildren experience the same joy is a treat I hope I will continue to be able to see over and over again.

    I remember when our Commissioners wanted to limit the number of real estate offices in town…ha ha…they are so silly. The market place is a living breathing creature in its own right…government gets its cut and then it should make sure the public is safe. Reduce red tape…provide an environment conducive to commerce…whether or not a business fails or prospers it is none of their affair.

    Mobile vendors and storefronts are like compairing lakes to rivers…a mobile vendor brings the product to you reling on impulse whereas a storefront puts the burden of mobility on you coupled with a pre-meditated decision. Children can’t drive…children love ice cream trucks!!!!

    I’m not young anymore in years…but I hope I never become a cranky, never smiling, pessimistic, naysaying old fart. Then again, I guess it’s part of the cycle. All the folks out there saying “no” are just revisiting their terrible two’s again ha ha. No…no…no

  7. FB Res Fed UP says:

    Why oh why?? What is the REAL reason our FB city commissioners are even brining this up and wasting our tax payers money. I love the fact that we DO have an Ice Cream truck that comes to service OUR kids and grandkids. Heck even my eyes light up when I hear the sound of Sandalina Truck coming down the street. Talk about communism…it is here…not coming!! Give it up and do something worthwhile “like saving our beaches”, how long has that argument been going on and many $ have been and continue to be spent on “study after study”. GET REAL cause the voters that count will be listening and watching.

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