In Cutler Bay, a town of about 40,000 in the Miami area, food truck regulations ended up ruining a nearby farmer’s market.
According to the Miami Herald, the Cutler Bay Farmer’s Market ran every Sunday for the past two years. A handful of food trucks came to event as well. Somebody anonymously complained to the city about unlicensed vendors (how would an average person know who was or wasn’t licensed to do business at a farmer’s market? Good question!). It turned out the town had an ordinance that prohibited allowing food trucks at the market, but it wasn’t being enforced. So the city sent the market’s volunteer manager warnings about it. Rather than booting the food trucks, he shut the whole affair down. The reason he did so is because the food trucks, even though there were only a handful of them, played a huge role in drawing people to the market:
“We don’t want to close down the market, but with taking out the food trucks, we are essentially doing just that,” said Vice Mayor Ernie Sochin. “If we want this Farmer’s Market to survive, we need to have the food trucks there.”
Joseph Gangi operates the MetroDeli food truck, which is one of several trucks that frequented the Farmer’s Market. He said this is another example of food trucks being unjustifiably ostracized.
“Food trucks get treated like lepers all over,” Gangi said, “even though we provide a more sanitary way to provide food for people, more so than the open vendors at these markets.”
Residents and council members, such as Sochin, said that without the food trucks there wouldn’t have been enough traffic for the market. The trucks, in essence, served as an advertising tool.
Here’s a defense from the kind of resident who doesn’t like those nasty food trucks (and also incorrectly thinks he understands how markets work):
Other residents didn’t want the market to rely on food trucks to attract patrons.
“If logistically it doesn’t work, then it’s a failed business,” said Alexander Volsiso. “We don’t want a food truck invasion.”
Who is this “we,” Mr. Volsiso? Obviously a significant number of Cutler Bay residents do want them because they’re going to the farmer’s market to give them money. Also, if you, for example, banned hamburgers in Cutler Bay, would you simply blather, “It’s a failed business,” when McDonald’s shuts its doors? A business that fails because of government intervention is not a good choice to express one’s knowledge of markets.
The farmer’s market has a Facebook page where a post from yesterday indicates it will be back this weekend. It does not state whether food trucks will be there.
(Hat tip to Justin Pearson of the Institute for Justice's Florida Chapter)