The St. Petersburg City Council has eliminated some local regulations over wage theft and food trucks in favor of county and state controls.
The council unanimously approved a measure that eliminates local requirements for licensing, registration, permitting and fees for mobile food trucks. Eliminating the local requirements brings the city into compliance with a law approved in the 2020 Florida legislative session, Liz Abernethy, director of planning and development services for the city, told council members on Thursday.
The new law clears up a long-standing disagreement over whether state or local officials control the licensing process for food trucks by placing health and safety issues under state authority. Local officials will still be able to keep food trucks out of certain areas through zoning laws, but they won’t be able to pile additional licensing requirements on top of additional state rules to block vendors from operating, said Maggie Loflin, owner of Maggie on The Move.
Food trucks have become a part of the St. Petersburg culture, Loflin wrote in an email to Abernethy. She’d like to see city regulations on parking loosened and would like the city to allow four or five trucks to be able to operate in a single location for up to four hours.
“We are so much more exciting in numbers,” Loflin wrote.
She also said food trucks have served a key purpose during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“We have brought so much joy and relief to so many people. People who have been working from home can have dinner brought to their neighborhoods giving them a break from cooking. And most trucks are now using an order ahead platform, making it easier for people to order and go to [the] truck to pick up their food,” Loflin wrote. “As with the rest of the world, Covid has changed our industry. Many trucks aren’t going to survive.”
The council separately repealed a 2015 wage theft ordinance designed to protect underpaid workers. Pinellas County has been enforcing the city’s wage theft ordinance for the last three years.
Related story: Underpaid workers get more help from Pinellas County
“Today we’re closing out the city’s program so there can be a uniform county-wide program,” said City Council member Darden Rice. “The county saw a good idea we started with at the local level and it made sense to attack this problem in a uniform way.”
Wage theft involves a bounced check, a check delayed by several weeks, an inaccurate amount of pay, or no check at all. Rice said. It also can include misclassification of employees.
More information about Pinellas County’s wage theft ordinance is here.