SARASOTA, Fla. — Tammy Hauser owns “The Chill Mobile” in Sarasota. She takes the ice cream truck to children’s birthday parties and other events, then parks it in her driveway where she can plug in the freezer unit.
“I’ve been operating ‘The Chill Mobile’ since March when my trolley tour company was shut down due to the pandemic,” said Hauser.
Despite her struggle to make ends meet, Hauser says things were going well with the ice cream truck business, until last week when she moved to a new home in Sarasota.
“Two days ago I received a violation notice on my front door,” said Hauser.
The notice said her truck could not remain parked in the driveway.
Hauser says the city code officer told her she was in violation because there were too many signs on her truck and the signs were too big.
“The funny thing is if I had a pest control business I could park a truck here with pictures of cockroaches and rats and it would be just fine,” said Hauser.
The city says pest control vehicles are exempt by state law.
In a statement from Sarasota city manager Tom Barwin, he said in part:
“The code is in place because of the concerns of residents citywide who want to protect the aesthetics and quality of life in their neighborhoods. The vehicle owner has not been cited, and no formal case has been initiated. The City’s focus is on working with individuals to come into compliance.
Since this issue came to my attention, and in recognition of the unique circumstances and challenges during the pandemic, I have granted the owner a 30-day grace period to come into compliance. We think this is a fair and reasonable approach that will give our staff extra time to work through this matter with Ms. Hauser.”
But Hauser says she has filed an appeal. She says the city should be helping support small businesses in this time of economic hardship.
“We are all just trying to survive. The city should be supporting us, not coming after us for these strange and bizarre violations,” said Hauser.