How Long Should Trailers Be Allowed on The Beach?

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That’s what the Fort Myers Beach Town Council struggled with Thursday. Council members want to move forward and see more concrete structures being built. They also want beach businesses that lost everything in Hurricane Ian to prosper. Those two goals are hard to balance. Here’s where they’re headed…

There are several different types of temporary trailer scenarios on Fort Myers Beach right now that have to be dealt with. One is a pre-Ian island business that lost everything, they own the property the business was on, and they are operating out of a trailer. The Beach Bar and The Whale fit into that category.

Another category is an island business that lost everything and operates on property they do not own. Rude Shrimp, La Ola, MoJoe’s, Yo Taco and Mom’s are examples in that category.

The final category is businesses that never existed on Fort Myers Beach now renting space from a property owner. An example of that, and what sparked this entire discussion, is the Queen of Weed which is renting space from Terry Persaud in Times Square.

The Town Council is leaning toward making September 28, 2025 the deadline for property owners to have a plan in motion to rebuild. Why September 28, 2025? Because this council believes 3 years is enough time for a property owner to have a plan in place to rebuild.

For the owners of The Whale and The Beach Bar, that deadline is meaningless. Plans for a new Whale have already been approved and plans for a new Beach Bar have been submitted to town staff for review.

For Rude Shrimp, the new Moss Marina project has also been submitted to staff so they should be good where they are until construction begins, if that plan gets approved. If the Moss Marina plan is denied and the owners decide to keep the business a Marina, the Town Council will have to decide what to do with Rude Shrimp at their current location after September 28, 2025.
The property La Ola sits on is owned by Chris Primeau. Primeau would have to have plans to rebuild on his property by September 28, 2025 or, according to the direction the Town Council is headed, La Ola would have to break down and move out of Times Square. The twist to that scenario is, what if a drawing for all of Times Square is unveiled, which is expected in the next few months. Would that be enough of a plan in motion to let La Ola stay? What if the new Times Square plans do not include any buildings on the La Ola side of the road? Would they allow Tom to keep La Ola operating after September 28, 2025? And how does Yo Taco fit into that scenario?

 

Mojoe’s has a completely different problem to deal with. The land where their business once sat, and they are now operating out of a trailer on, is for sale. What if that property does not sell by September 28, 2025? Will the town tell Brian to hit the road? Ditto for Mom’s.

Councilman Scott Safford said, It’s going to be a challenge for us.” Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt added, “I don’t know that there’s an easy answer.”

Councilwoman Karen Woodson wants businesses that were operating on the island before Ian to get preference. “My biggest issue is businesses that were not here before the storm and are renting space. I have a problem with that.”

What makes all of this even more challenging for this council is the fact that places like Rude Shrimp, La Ola, Yo Taco have created so much more than serving food out of a food truck. They’ve revitalized that beach vibe that everyone says they want on Fort Myers Beach.

That brings us to the Queen of Weed scenario. It looks as if the town will continue to allow businesses to come on the island and rent space from a willing partner property owner. However, the deadline remains the same. In other words, Terry Persaud must have a plan in motion to rebuild his business in Times Square if he wants to continue to rent space to the Queen of Weed after September 28, 2025.

The next step is for the Town Attorney to re-write the ordinance that allows temporary trailers with the direction she received from the Town Council Thursday. That proposed wording will then go to the LPA for discussion. LPA Chair Anita Cereceda told Beach Talk Radio Thursday, “I believe the LPA will be able to offer some strong support to help the council move this issue forward.” It was the LPA that sparked the discussion earlier this month and wants the Town Council to set some clear guidelines.

Councilman John King said “Our direction was to establish parameters but have built in safeguards to be able to address individual extenuating circumstances.”

At the end of the discussion, Mayor Dan Allers said, “It’s as clear as mud.” He may have been joking. It was hard to tell. We’ll ask him about that Sunday. One thing he has said repeatedly in the past, “We can’t save everyone.” And we know for sure he was not joking about that.

The Council also discussed the possibility of putting a food truck park at the old Town Hall property. Operations Manager Frank Kropacek plans to reach out to Cape Coral and Fort Myers to see how they’ve set up their rules for food truck parks.

 

42 COMMENTS

  1. Debbie and, I as the previous owners of Pete’s Time Out business ,we were also the property owners.
    Our foresight of the future business quickly after the storm was painfully correct.
    Our action to sell quickly will always be questioned by others .
    Our decision was a sound one for our quality of life in our future..
    We never could of financially survived through these past 19 months,let alone rebuild.
    All the dreamers of a food truck area in Times Square should invest in the going property value.
    Then look at cost of mortgage,labor or lack of finding employees,new insurance,rising food cost and rebuilding the building to new codes .
    Put ontop of lack of affordable parking for employees or customers,the lack of normal customer base that was prior to the storm.

    The numbers are staggering and unless you’re personally wealthy to sustain no income for several more years, the risk is enormous.

    The Times Square property owner is normally a landlord to a renter of a business.
    That Landlord needs to make a return on investment (ROI) food trucks monthly rents cannot cover the landlords monthly mortgage obligations.
    Trying to compare Times Square to Backyard Social is not acceptable.
    The cost and value of that property per Sq Ft is substantially lower .
    Also is owned by one corporation without town property running thru the center and has plenty of free customer parking.

    • Very well said, John.

      And perhaps it will help to inform those who think it’s a simple matter of just plunking down a few food trucks.

  2. What about the town rebuilding? Where’s our pool? Is the container trucks it for the Town Council? Stop worrying about the businesses when there are locals still trying to get their quality of life back. How the heck are these people going to rebuild in this traffic? Builders are not going to want to come here. You got the tourists back now let’s get our town back for us to play. I saw your list and no pool. Don’t tell me it’s too expensive. I’m sure the taxpayers would rather see their money going back to them than some business that just brings in more traffic. What about us? I think we pay our dues by sitting in traffic every winter to at least get our recreation fully back. Not all of us have bodies that can endure pickleball.

    • Do you think the property tax collected from residential properties pays the bills of the town? Not even close with no businesses the town doesn’t have the means to pay for a bird bath let alone a pool. One breath you say helping people get quality of life then you say swimming pool and pickle ball as if they are necessary to function in life. Now that’s some funny stuff.

  3. The food truck court is a great idea – Town Hall location (would rent go to the city general fund?) l or some place else. It must have a large central table area as this is what makes it so perfect. Everyone in a group can get what they want to eat and bring back to a group meal. We loved them in Hawaii and Tahiti as it saved lots of arguments on where and what we were having for the meal. Most of these had large tents to cover the eating area. That should make FEMA happy …. tent down, trailers drive off for next storm.

  4. Gotta make sure the rents are affordable if you want folks to occupy new buildings.

    -Founder SWFL Clean Water Movement

  5. As a resident homeowner my hope is that reduction of traffic be the number one goal for city leadership. We do not need more cars on the Island.
    So, in regards to food trucks, if the density is low, I am not opposed. In other words, the number of food trucks should not be more than the number of businesses that originally occupied a given footprint. I also like the idea that someone else suggested about having the trucks north of the bridge but this may still create a lot of traffic between Estero Island and Walmart.
    Bottom line…focus on less traffic and not so much packing more stuff, food-trucks or otherwise, onto a small barrier Island.

    • Your Always going to have traffic!! The one lane coming n going onto the island n on the island isn’t going to change. TOURISTS is what you want to bring back life for all the businesses to thrive without them you might as well close up shop. We need Times Square to be updated with Food n Apparel shops
      We want our beach area to have a good reputation so more people will come n stay n visit.

  6. Why would someone want to spend dollar one to visit FMB, airfare, lodging, etc, to eat out of a truck? Classy.

    • I agree. And it is not inexpensive! I had sticker shock for a couple of tacos and a beverage from Yo Taco. I’d just assume spend a bit more and eat at the Yukatan.

    • Agreed We want to improve FMB . If we don’t it’s only going to go back to being the old Honky Tonk Beach area. New homes are going to go up n they are going to be newer n bigger homes. It is time to Update Times Square

  7. I’d like to clear up the article with some facts! I do not own the property in Times Square it’s owned by Klc surf LLC., I am a trustee of the estate( Kim Lisa Chris ) I do however manage the property for the estate along with my sister Lisa, my sister Kim has a medical trust and is also cared for by the estate (me and Lisa) we are patiently waiting designs for the new Times Square to create a scenario on which to precede. We have long term relationships on the island with Tennants! La Ola and tom are more than just a Tennant to us and we could not be more proud of the hard work he has done to bring back the vibe and create a place that feels normal to a lot of us and how we enjoy the island. We feel our location has a responsibility to the community and want to be clear our goal is to be part of the future success of a total rebuild. As there are only three of us left out of eight I know they are watching and approve our sentiments. As plans emerge for times squares rebuild I can assure you I have not limited the progress in anyway! We want it back as well, but have to respect our neighbors in our collective vision to unify the properties for a best use scenario

    • Chris:

      Where in my article does it say that YOU are slowing up progress in any way that you feel you needed to clear that up? Everyone on the planet knows the owners in Times Square can’t get along enough to even get a rendering of a new Times Square out for the public to see. That’s a fact I didn’t even include in the story. Please feel free to post how far along you are in rebuilding your building on your property though.
      Ed

      • Ed sorry for that my main concern was about ownership! Don’t want people to think I am sole proprietor, creates a little static in the family, and no I did not think you called me out at all for the slow process, plans are being discussed and without each owner seeing them and agreeing unfortunately it’s not ready.

      • Chris, Don’t let Ed, (I don’t have a dog in the fight) Ryan get under your skin. He blocked me from his Facebook page (he claims he doesn’t block people who disagree with him) because I dared to point out his bluster pointed at town officials over not prioritizing the rebuild of Bayfront park when bigger fires were still smoldering from Ian was misplaced coming from someone ineligible to vote in FMB elections.. He thinks his celebrity and microphone makes him the non-resident, resident expert of FMB. If he was a stake holder in Times square maybe his input is worth a listen, but since he’s just a provocateur from Lehigh, tell him to go pound sand.

      • Ed sorry for that my main concern was about ownership! Don’t want people to think I am sole proprietor, creates a little static in the family, and no I did not think you called me out at all for the slow process, plans are being discussed and without each owner seeing them and agreeing unfortunately it’s not ready.

      • Wow. Chris is one of the good guys on this Island. He has always helped non profits by donating his parking lot for beach clean ups and other events. Your true colors are showing.

  8. Seriously – the current setup at TSq is super >FUN<
    Why not embrace the food truck culture – and charge appropriate licensure / tax fees so that the city still sees upsides? Best part? Next storm, businesses actually temporarily remove their assets instead of catastrophically loosing them all! (And can come back quickly post storms…) Come on FMB – embrace the fun – You can do it! Maybe we even see a “Top’ O” trailer for old times sake?!

    • I agree 100%. It’s so nice going to time square and sitting by LaOla having lunch and listening to music. Keep the food truck

  9. Maybe a food truck park could go over the bridge on Main Street by shrimp boats. Would still be close, have water and sunset views, would have parking and reduce some traffic. Another place might be the mobile park areas next to and across from pinchers. Empty lots are reasonably priced for this type of business. Could find a way to make a win win for everyone.

  10. Sunset clauses should have been inserted into contracts (or signed agreements) before food trucks were allowed in the first place. The town is now stuck with playing catch-up.

  11. my biggest take away was that in 30 days the state of emergency will expire and then all of the trailers that are not mobile will need to be removed.

  12. I think number #1 priority should be the businesses that were on the island prior Ian, #2 should be the ones that have or are in the process of rebuilding also waiting for new construction space to rent.
    The food truck park sounds good however it may be a deterrent from some food trucks to make a commitment to lease space not even knowing how expensive rent maybe with insurance situation and the price of construction that the Landlord would have to pass that over to renters.🤔
    Also coming to the beach and finding here and there a food truck maybe okay BUT I’M SURE RESIDENTS DON’T WANT TO SEE THE ISLAND LOOK LIKE A FOOD FESTIVAL ALL YEAR ROUND.

    • You are exactly right! As a resident, I completely love the idea of a food truck park. I also search out things like it when I’m traveling. It would be a win for everybody.

  13. How about a food truck court at Newton Park. The town owns the land, build a permanent structure with amenties and a bar. There are no establishments except Junkanoo between Santini and Diamond Head, it would be a great spot.

    • No. No parking. Not zoned for it. Residential area. We are at Mid-Island to get away from the crowds at Times Square. Invite a food truck park to your backyard if you want one. We don’t want it in our back and side yards.

    • Please, no food truck park mid island. Agree with Kathy. We too sold our home on the north end to get away from the crowds and are spending a ton of money to rebuild. Please don’t destroy the investment we made in our quiet neighborhood area.

    • It cannot happen at Newton Park. The funds the Town used to acquire the property came with contingencies that require the property to be used as a passive educational park.

      • Yes indeed. We owned at White Cap when all of that was being worked through the much too long painful process. Opened many years after it was planned to open.

  14. Weekly votes for every property owner it’s the only way to make it right. The kings in the castle don’t care about the peasant workers that have no where to live, y’all are concerned with operating a business out of a trailer. What happened to the American dream? How many new business owners are going to look at fort Myers beach and say damn they don’t have a clue?

  15. There is a food truck court in Petoskey, MI that is not unlike FMB. It is off the main road and has a permanent bar area that is covered with 6 – 8 food trucks in a semi circle around one side with picnic tables in the middle. All the food truck offer different fare. If it rains the permanent bar area has a fixed band shell type roof over it. Works well up north.

    • There’s a similar place in Hilton Head. One permanent structure (an old bank building), with a micro-brew inside, plus another eatery (pizza and something else), plus lots of inside seating (it is farther north and a bit cooler than FMB, lol), and outside there are 4 or 5 trucks – all different foods/drink – plus a huge, movable TV screen, on a stage which they also use for live bands, and more tables and seating under cover. In addition to all of this, there are lots of Adirondack chairs in circles between the building and the street, and some of them have big lawn games – corn hole, connect 4, etc. and patio lighting all around the lawn area . . . and yes, the lighting is turtle friendly (HH has almost NO street lights anywhere, but these lights are ok). In our visits to HH since it opened, it’s very popular! (I actually had a thought a while back that this would be a great idea for the Red Coconut property!)

  16. Is the old town hall property still owned by the taxpayers? Will it fall into the category that Persaud is in? Will the town be renting out the space?
    Will the town apply for a permit to which taxpayers approve or deny?

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