New Temporary Trailer Rules Are Coming

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The discussion about what to do with businesses operating out of trailers will begin on Thursday at the Town Council’s Management & Planning session. Mayor Dan Allers said Monday we have to come up with an end date.

Businesses like La Ola, Yo Taco, Rude Shrimp and others have been operating out of temporary trailers since shortly after Hurricane Ian. The Town Council wanted island businesses to be able to operate while they formulated their plans to rebuild.

Tunaskin operated a retail trailer until their building re-opened. The Beach Bar has been operating on the beach out of a trailer and recently submitted plans to rebuild. The Whale serves alcohol, provides live entertainment and brings in food trucks at their location. Whale ownership recently had their plans to rebuild approved.

The Town Council will consider giving other businesses now operating out of a trailer a deadline. Those businesses may have to show the town some sort of rebuild plans or be told by the town to close shop. It may be 3 years from the storm (19 months from now), or it may be sooner. Several scenarios were discussed at the Town Council meeting Monday.

There is a town ordinance on the books now that prohibits any businesses from operating out of a mobile trailer. However, shortly after the storm, the town council passed ordinance 23-05 to allow beach residents to live in a trailer while they rebuild their homes. They also wanted to help local businesses get back on their feet. The problem is 23-05 does not specifically address temporary trailers for businesses and this Town Council blamed previous Town Attorney John Herin for not including language in the resolution to address businesses.

What to do with mobile businesses came to a head recently when Times Square property owner Terry Persaud was granted a permit for The Queen of Weed, which to some Town Council members went outside the intent of what they were trying to do; help existing businesses get back on their feet. The Queen of Weed was not an existing business before the storm and Persaud did not sell their products in his restaurant. Town staff said Persaud followed all the rules to get his permit.

Former Mayor and current LPA Chair Anita Cereceda told the council on Monday, “Don’t let the big picture of redevelopment be sidetracked by allowing mobile businesses that were not here to continue to proliferate.” She told the Town Council they need to take a stand on how to move forward. “There needs to be a line drawn in the sand.”

Vice Mayor Jim Atterholt said the ordinance needs to be corrected. “We need to discuss what can and cannot be done. The current ordinance is inadequate.”

One of the challenges this Town Council faces is if they revert back to the original ordinance on the books that prohibits all mobile businesses from operating on the island, La Ola goes away, Rude Shrimp goes away, The Beach Bar goes away, Yo Taco goes away, MoJoe’s goes away. Mayor Dan Allers said, “We will have an empty Times Square.”

Another challenge this council will face is what if one of those businesses comes forward and says we like the way things are going now, the money is flowing, and the cost to maintain these units is very low, we’d like to make this permanent. How does this council deal with that?

On Thursday at 9AM the discussion begins.

26 COMMENTS

  1. Why blame town attorney who is no longer with us? We have zero accountability – I thought Mayor and Town Council made the decision?
    Saying this trailer issue is an oversight from homeowners living in RVs/ Campers is DISINGENUOUS at best. Without honesty and accountability our local govt continues to lose confidence of people .
    I for one am 100% against the SELLING OUT of the will of the people of FMB – leave the current plan in place and let the small guy who has been destroyed from Covid to Ian be grandfathered in.
    Food trucks and mobile businesses will be needed for next 19 months , hopefully the Free market will take care of situation after that .

    • Except that it is known, by those paying attention, that the Town Government is working on a permanent solution for a Town Hall. We are awaiting approval of funding, $8 Million, from the State Legislature and the Governor’s signature. It’s important to note that we are trying to follow the rules.

      • Have you given thought that others may be trying to follow the rules too? What leniency will the town afford those that are not waiting approval for $8 million funding from the government and still being raped by their insurance company? Vice Mayor Atterholt is correct stating the ordinance needs to be corrected. When the town does this make sure owners and residents have plenty opportunity to voice their opinion with open ears from the town. 19 months have passed and the next 19 will fly by also. If the towns new structures aren’t completed by a deadline are you moving to the street?

        • This Council has no problem listening to residents, taxpayers, visitors and business owners. That is how I campaigned and how we are governing. Today we discussed how to fix the poorly written ordinance. We are more than willing to work with anyone about their circumstances. This new ordinance will go to the LPA for input before it comes back to Council for public input during two public hearings.

  2. It will evolve into something perhaps as yet unforeseen. I visualized food trucks being right there at dusk and after dark during early dinnertime hours – -while a building right next door is under construction. I imagined that overtime it would eventually evolve into other businesses that have been already rebuilt staying open until an hour or two after dark and as restaurants and curios are opening up — one after another — that the trucks (now seeing less sales in food) will gradually disappear one by one — replaced by , well, vendors selling merchandise at dusk — hats , jewelry, coats, and other souvenirs. This could turn into a pretty profit making venture at Times Square – sort of a “art fair in the night ” until a designated closing time.

    • (Late Note) – As far as vendors go I was thinking along the lines of “outdoor vendors” just like you see at outdoor art fairs. One merchandise “OR ” food truck vendor for each property (if the property owner approves) to be approved by the city for a certain specified number of months beyond the start of re construction of that property.

  3. Can’t the vendors be vetted? And why do we need a weed truck on Main and main, I get it’s the in thing and accepted, but front and center on our welcome to ft Myers beach area not good thinking at all. How about doing something that people don’t find controversial, or families can enjoy.

  4. The “Queen of Weed”, made a statement setting up shop in Time Square! Just the business name ruffled feathers. Had they not showed up would this even be an issue?

    Regardless of strong people feel from the “Yes” side to the “No” side, you first have to ask yourself, How do you want the Island to look in 7yrs? Do we want to give the world the impression, that we are a trailer community or do we change and have these “Stable Businesses” move into classy Brick and Mortar Establishment?

    Will tourist come and pay the high $ amounts to rent/stay in a double-wides and go to trailer bars?
    or
    With all the new development projected, the does the Island businesses give off the vibe that we are classier then our neighbors. People always want to check out that new Restaurant or that new bar

    • “Classy brick and mortar establishment”? Do you mean like the strip joint at the base of the bridge that will welcome visitors and their children to our island?

  5. I personally think that you have to look at the big picture first, if you are going to try to get a date from the food trailers you need to know if you are going to have enough affordable places build and where that would be convenient for these food truck business to run and make money.
    NO.#1 – Give the people that had businesses in the Island priority and a break in price on what ever you end up figuring what spot to move them to or what ever you figure out.
    Now the people that have no plans to reopen or that were not here before the hurricane you can charge them more because they had no loss & just came to service but to make money.
    It is going to be a fine line on business that maybe even back then were barely making it verses what the cost of rent is going to be for deferent reasons as the price of construction and insurance.
    Just like the people that had a regular size house (dry lot) and they lost it,
    let’s say their lot now is worth
    $450,k to $500,k but it is going to cost them $800,k to build what they had with new building Codes. If you are retired receiving SSI alone you can’t afford it, you are going to need to sell your lot and move out of what was your dream retired place.

  6. We don’t have enough breakfast places now with out leaving the beach. Can’t you guys be patient and hold your horses. Everything will come in time. After season who’s going to patronize all these food trailers?

  7. Establish a lot/lots where food/service trucks can operate. Permit-based, perhaps a percentage of sales goes to the LCVB? Like the bed tax does which we are sorely missing right now. Why does ‘a line have to be drawn in the sand’? Can we be any less open-minded about getting things back to normal or to a new normal on FMB? Let’s re-think; think out of the box and stop looking backward.

  8. Fort myers and Cape Coral have several food truck parks plus food trucks all over the city. why fort myers beach has to be different? There are no even many buildings left after Ian in FMB where new businesses can be open. In addition will take years to rebuild with all the regulations in place, maybe some parcels can’t even be rebuilt because there are too small specially in Times Square area. Give this people a break, they are activiting the economy.

  9. If you’re a property owner and you can collect the same rent off a food truck as you would a store front, why pay to build a store front?

  10. If you’re a landlord the Square that rented your building to a restaurant, and said restaurant blew away…how much rent would you have to charge in order to recoup the cost of a brand new build?

    • Millions. I was one of those businesses that got blown away. Mango Rita’s. My landlord or any landlord is faced with the same thing we are. Not one penny. I repeat not even a penny has been paid to us. Where’s the wonderful government when it comes to helping its citizens. I said tens of thousands only to be told I wasnt covered due to some legal horsecrap. Homeowners faced with the same garbage. It’s not an easy rebuild. Most of these property owners and business owners were just normal people living their dream of being a business owner. Some generational owners of property. Left with thousands in cleanup fees etc. citizens and business owners alike are faced with a huge financial burden.

  11. Let the tourists decide. New products, services are always changing. Just because the product/service wasn’t there before doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be allowed. As with any business, if they aren’t making a profit they will close or move on. For all the people against this, have the business show they are making a profit.

  12. I remember when the mobile vendors were praised for their resilience for getting back in business…all until a certain truck showed up, that ruffled some feathers.

  13. what about this… any pre Ian FMB business should be able to rent a location on the island. If they were renters previous and they want to get a mobile location going, that shows they are interested in renting a brick and morter when those become available. I think the land owner needs to show that they intend to come back by showing a signed building contract or engineering contract that shows they are investing in returning, not just renting to mobile units and then selling.

    For residential trailers, you should have to prove (signed contract with builder or engineering plans or permit) that you are in the process of rebuilding to keep your trailer on your lot or a neighbor’s lot.

    Just some ideas!

  14. I like the mobile businesses. Leave them be. No need for them to build brick and mortar. No need to push them out. It’s free enterprise. Seems like FMB is catering to certain elite clientele that want to have the beach all to themselves. Business is business. Leave them alone or maybe provide a specific area for the mobile businesses so they too can thrive and beach goers can enjoy ALL that FMB offers. I never thought of FMB as a “closed” community. Guess I’ll have to rethink that.

  15. if building is not going to happen in Times Square any time soon perhaps others like myself that were holding on to be back in our shop space but were pushed out of returning to our shop spaces after waiting all this time. Maybe some of the business owners who are also in my shoes can get a permit to open in Times Square on a daily basis in a mobile way until there is concrete plans to rebuild and allow the fantastic market that is there Fri and Sat. Even after something’s are built I hope that the Market can remain there as it is a great tourist attraction and makes our island come alive and has helped so many of us get back on our feet.

    I had checked out about being set up in Times Square after Ian as my shop was destroyed in Santini. And was told only businesses that were positioned in Times Square before Ian could get a permit.

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