Tags Posts tagged with "Institute of Justice"

Institute of Justice

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Institute-for-Justice-logoCHICAGO, IL –  You may have missed the food truck news, but the Chicago Machine is about to be tested. Yesterday we reported that the Institute of Justice is filing a suit against the city of Chicago today to challenge the current legislation that was created in part to allow cooking on food trucks, but at the same time, it was developed to protect restaurants from these mobile food competitors.

This new legislation has been in place since July, but this is the first attempt to have the protectionist language removed. This will allow food truck owners to navigate the city providing Chicagoans much more culinary choice.

Please watch and share this video to get a better understanding of the situation facing Windy City Food Truck Owners:

If you want to help these owners, be sure to share this story and others relating to this situation through social media. To keep the message from becoming fragmented, use the hashtag “#freethefoodtrucks” when you spread the word.

 

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Burke v. City of Chicago: Should the city of Chicago be in the business of protecting restaurants from food trucks?

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That is the question to be answered by a major lawsuit to be filed tomorrow, Wednesday, November 14, 2012, in Cook County Circuit Court by the Institute for Justice (IJ)—a national public interest law firm—and three Chicago-area food truck entrepreneurs. 

Cities nationwide are experiencing the benefits of food trucks.  But for years Chicago had not embraced that movement.  For example, Chicago did not allow cooking on food trucks and it told food truck entrepreneurs that they must stay more than 200 feet from brick-and-mortar restaurants.  So in June 2012, when the city announced it would be revising its vending laws, food fans were excited.

The law that passed in July, however, continues to make it illegal for food trucks to operate within 200 feet of any fixed business that serves food.  The fines for violating the 200-foot rule are up to $2,000—ten times higher than for parking in front of a fire hydrant.  Further, the city is forcing food trucks to install GPS tracking devices that broadcast the trucks’ every move.  According to the Chicago Tribune, “the ordinance doesn’t serve the needs of the lunch-seeking public. It benefits the brick-and-mortar eateries, whose owners don’t want the competition.”

The Institute for Justice is the nation’s leading legal advocate for the rights of entrepreneurs.  For more on the lawsuit and IJ’s National Street Vending Initiative, visit www.ij.org/vending.

 

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NOLA food trucks

NEW ORLEANS, LA - Ever since food trucks started appearing along roadsides after Hurricane Katrina, vendors have been struggling with city codes and ordinances that they say unnecessarily hamper their operations. Now they are taking their case to the public with the “Let The Food Trucks Roll! A Food Truck Rally & Symposium,” slated for today, July 24, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Ashé Cultural Arts Center on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard.

Rachel Billow, president of the recently formed New Orleans Food Truck Coalition, says current laws discourage entrepreneurialism and limit the growth of the food truck culture.

“New Orleans’ food culture is so rich, and this is another manifestation of it,” Billow said. The food truck business here, she said, is “catching up with the industry in other cities and really coming into its own. For that to happen, it’s going to be really important to revisit the city restrictions that have proven so challenging.”

Billow knows firsthand how difficult and expensive compliance with local laws can be. After moving her La Cocinita food truck here from Florida and spending thousands of dollars to make it compliant with Louisiana health and fire codes, she had a hard time getting one of the 100 permits available.

“We finally got one, but the problem was that the laws are so convoluted that even the city employees charged with applying them can’t always figure them out,” Billow said. “It’s getting to be more and more of an issue as the diversity and quality of food available via mobile vendors have grown.”

Trucks such as La Cocinita, Taceaux Loceaux and Geaux Plates have become fixtures outside of popular bars on weekends, but they have to work hard to build a following because city laws require that they stop no more than 45 minutes in any one spot (up from 30 minutes a few years ago).

“It takes us a half-hour to set up, and then we send out a status update on Twitter. But sometimes it takes customers awhile to get to the site, and we might have had to move on before they get there,” Billow said. “All the vendors face the same problems with the 45-minute rule.”

Find the entire article by R. Stephanie Bruno at nola.com <here>

LET THE FOOD TRUCKS ROLL!

  • What: The New Orleans Food Truck Coalition is holding a rally on Oretha Castle Haley Boulevard to advocate changing local laws regarding food trucks. Featured food trucks: La Cocinita, Empanada Intifada, Foodie Call, NOLA Foods, Taceaux Loceaux, the Yaka Mein Lady and Ye Olde Kettle Cooker.
  • Where: Ashe Cultural Arts Center, 1712 Oretha C Haley Blvd.
  • When: Today, July 24, 6-9 p.m.
  • Information: Food will be sold, but it is free to attend. Visit noftc.tumblr.com for more details.

 

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LEXINGTON, KY - The following letter was deliverd today to all members of the Itinerant Merchant Task Force and the Mayor’s office.  This letter details the problems with the proposed regulations and the consequences faced by other cities that have tried to limit entrepreneurs in the manner Lexington is proposing for mobile vendors.  Read the entire letter below, then contact your council member and let them know exactly how you feel!

May 30, 2012

Members of the Itinerant Merchant Task Force

Re: Itinerant merchant regulations

Dear Members of the Itinerant Merchant Task Force:

The Institute for Justice is a public interest, civil liberties law firm that advocates in the courts of law and public opinion to vindicate the right to earn an honest living. As part of our efforts, the Institute recently launched its National Street Vending Initiative, with legal challenges to unconstitutional vending laws in El Paso, Atlanta, and Hialeah, Florida. IJ also published Streets of Dreams: How Cities Can Create Economic Opportunity by Knocking Down Protectionist Barriers to Street Vending, a nationwide report on the benefits that street vendors provide and the barriers that too often stand in their way.[1]

Food trucks put people to work, provide a way out of poverty, create opportunities for self-sufficiency, and enrich the communities in which they operate. They can, as the Los Angeles Times recently reported, provide entry-level opportunities, allowing entrepreneurs to test ideas and accumulate capital needed to climb the economic ladder and realize their next opportunity, a brick-and-mortar restaurant.[2] Food trucks also serve as “eyes on the street.”[3] The benefits of food trucks and vending are countless and benefit the entrepreneur, their family and employees, and the community.

Still, the food truck revolution that has spread across the country has left many cities, including Lexington, puzzled about how to regulate these new innovative businesses. Some concerns revolve around how to license trucks, their effect on congestion, the trash that the trucks generate, and ensuring the safety of the food that the trucks serve. These are appropriate issues for the government to consider, and have been addressed by cities across the nation using narrow, evenhanded rules.

But many brick-and-mortar restaurants want to use the legislative process to stifle food trucks and protect themselves from competition. Some cities have passed so-called “proximity restrictions”—laws that prohibit trucks from operating within a certain distance of restaurants, supermarkets, and even convenience stores. This is an unconstitutional use of government power. Passed in response to the suppression of the rights of Southern freedmen and their white supporters in the wake of the Civil War, the Fourteenth Amendment today protects the right of Lexington’s mobile food vending entrepreneurs to operate.

Attorney and task force member David Barberie expressed concern about the proposed 200-foot proximity restriction around any brick-and-mortar restaurant, noting that El Paso’s 1,000-foot proximity restriction got the city into legal trouble. Indeed it did, and in response to our lawsuit, El Paso repealed its law.[4]

Any proximity restriction, be it 50 feet or 500 feet, is unconstitutional. Several members of the task force noted anything below 200 feet would not be sufficiently sizeable for the brick-and-mortar restaurants. Proximity is not a factor for government officials to consider, nor is it the government’s responsibility to protect established businesses from competition. Indeed, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, which includes Kentucky, said as much in response to a lawsuit by the Institute for Justice challenging a government-imposed monopoly on the sale of caskets. In ruling that the government cannot impose protectionist regulations that restrict individuals’ right to earn an honest living, the Sixth Circuit flatly ruled “that protecting a discrete interest group from economic competition is not a legitimate government purpose.”[5] Any proximity restriction that Lexington enacted would similarly be unconstitutional.

Besides the blatantly unconstitutional nature of proximity restrictions, the arguments made for them are absurd. Restaurants open up next door to other restaurants every day, with no uproar. Restaurants will not close because a food truck has rolled into their community. In fact, food trucks draw people outside and into the economy, opening up potential customers’ eyes to new opportunities, be it street food or restaurants and shops. Restaurants and food trucks offer different experiences that have different advantages and disadvantages. It is ludicrous to write an unconstitutional law and risk litigation and bad publicity based on a restaurant’s fear that they will go out of business because a family going out for a nice dinner might be deterred by the hot dog stand across the street.

Lexington should reject protectionist efforts and instead enact clear, simple, and modern laws that focus exclusively on protecting the public’s health and safety. Arbitrary and anti-competitive laws like proximity restrictions and ones that severely limit when trucks may operate restrict healthy economic activity and hit those on the first rung of the economic ladder hardest—those with neither the time nor the resources to fight back politically.

Specifically, the Institute for Justice proposes:

• Instead of creating a pilot program that limits vending on public property to a small downtown space, all public property should be opened up to street food vendors, with appropriate limitations that protect the public health and safety concerns of congestion, trash, and food safety.
• The proposal to limit truck operations to between 10pm and 4am should be rejected. By confining their operation to serving one single type of consumer and prohibiting them from expanding their service to lunchtime and dinnertime crowds, limiting hours arbitrarily denies food trucks the opportunity to succeed. Across the country, brick-and-mortar restaurants are free to set their own hours; food trucks should have the same freedom.
• Section 15-12(c)(2) in the proposed ordinance—which states that vending is prohibited in a location that causes “people to congregate at or near the place where vending items are being sold…”—is vague and, coupled with overzealous enforcement, could make all vending on public property in Lexington illegal. The Institute recommends that the ordinance should instead require that food trucks keep the sidewalks in the area around their trucks passable.
• Any proximity restriction based on the location of existing brick-and-mortar restaurants or other food truck competitors is unconstitutional and should be rejected. Regulations pertaining to where vendors are allowed to operate should be limited to addressing concerns about congested intersections, narrow streets, etc.—not concerns about competition raised by brick-and-mortar restaurants.

It is no coincidence that cities with laws that are not based on protectionist intent, like Los Angeles, enjoy thriving food truck scenes, while cities that put protectionism before entrepreneurship do not. Laws that embrace entrepreneurship see it thrive. Especially in these still-difficult economic times, Lexington should be fostering entrepreneurship and honest enterprise—not regulating it out of business.

The Institute for Justice hopes you will thoughtfully consider the above information and adopt legislation that is limited to protecting the public’s health and safety. Please do not hesitate to contact me at [REMOVED] if you have any questions or I can provide further information. Thank you.

Best,

Christina Walsh
Director of Activism and Coalitions

CC: Lexington-Fayette Urban County Council
1 Available at http://www.ij.org/streetsofdreams.
2 “Food trucks as a vehicle to sit-down restaurant success,” Los Angeles Times, Oct. 6, 2011.
3 See Jane Jacobs, “The Death and Life of Great American Cities,” New York: Vintage, 1992.
4 See Institute for Justice press release, “Victory for El Paso Mobile Food Vendors: City Enacts New Ordinance Allowing Vendors to Compete Openly in the Marketplace in Response to Federal Constitutional Challenge,” April 26, 2011, available at http://www.ij.org/el-paso-vending-release-4-26-11.
5 Craigmiles v. Giles, 312 F.3d 220, 224 (6th Cir. 2002).

 

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