Hungry residents of ocean-side Fort Pierce, Florida can at last partake in the offerings of food trucks now that a state district court has struck down a city ordinance that effectively banned the businesses.
The Institute for Justice (IJ) brought a lawsuit on behalf of Taco Trap owner Benny Diaz and Creative Chef on Wheels owner Brian Peffer.
The city ordinance banned food trucks from operating within 500 feet of an existing restaurant or convenience store. The law made it all but impossible for food trucks to operate in the city.
“I’m excited about the opportunities for me and other food truck owners,” Diaz said in a May 9 IJ press release. “This change is good for Florida food truck owners and the people of Fort Pierce, who now have so many more food options.”
Boosting the Overall Economy
Fort Pierce vendors and customers are not the only ones who will benefit from the new food options, Harbor Springs, Michigan City Manager Tom Richards told IJ after his city started allowing food trucks, the press release states. Food trucks and other vendors help boost a city’s overall economy, he says.
“They become an attraction and increase the number of people in your downtown,” Richards told IJ.
Local business owners also reap the benefits of expanded commerce in their community. Food trucks will help his business, says Al Beltran, general manager of the Public House, a Fort Pierce pub, the press release states.
“Having food trucks being able to operate in Fort Pierce is huge,” Beltran said. “You want to have customers leave happier than when they arrive. The more they can enjoy, the better off they are,” he said.
‘Freedom Helps Businesses Thrive’
Economic freedom is a fundamental right that benefits the community, IJ Florida Office Managing Attorney Justin Pearson told Budget & Tax News.
“The right of food truck vendors to do business in Fort Pierce is quite new, but the benefits are already obvious,” Pearson said. “Expanding economic freedom helps businesses thrive and gives consumers more options.”
“The Florida Constitution does not allow the government to pick winners and losers in the marketplace,” Pearson said. “That choice belongs to consumers.”
National Street Vending Initiative
IJ has launched lawsuits on behalf of food truck owners and other street vendors across the nation through its National Street Vending Initiative, Beck states. The group’s successful lawsuits in San Antonio; El Paso; Carolina Beach, North Carolina; and Louisville, Kentucky have eliminated laws that banned food trucks from competing with brick-and-mortar rivals. IJ has similar lawsuits pending in Chicago, Baltimore, and Fish Creek, Wisconsin.
Cities throughout the country are becoming more open to eateries on wheels in order to attract businesses to their downtowns, states an IJ report, Upwardly Mobile.
Although many local restaurant associations oppose the food trucks, customers appreciate the additional dining options.
Food trucks “have little, if any, investment in the community and do not provide a stable tax base for the city,” [emphasis in the original], a coalition of local restaurants objected to city officials in Knoxville, Tennessee, in a 2013 letter. Despite those complaints, Knoxville is now home to more than 90 food trucks.
Bonner R. Cohen, Ph.D. ([email protected]) is a senior fellow at the National Center for Public Policy Research.
Dick M. Carpenter, Upwardly Mobile: Street Vending and the American Dream, Institute for Justice, October 6, 2015: https://heartland.org/publications-resources/publications/institute-for-justice-upwardly-mobile-street-vending-and-the-american-dream