After sponsoring new regulations on food trucks, Pensacola, Florida City Councilman Charles Bare now opposes his own proposal, saying the city government agency responsible for reviewing the legislation, the Pensacola Planning Board, exceeded its authority by inserting a ban on the operation of a food truck within 200 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant.
Snap, Crackdown, Pop
Justin Pearson, managing attorney of the Institute for Justice’s Florida office, says Pensacola’s proposed food truck rules leave a sour taste in consumers’ mouths.
“It’s not the government’s job to pick winners and losers in the marketplace; that belongs to consumers,” Pearson said. “What the government in Pensacola did is establish bans [in] the downtown area, as well as other restrictions that made it impractical for a food truck to go there.
“The current version of the bill has a 200-foot proximity, so a food truck cannot operate within 200 feet of a restaurant, unless that brick-and-mortar restaurant consents,” Pearson said.
Other Cities Allow
Pearson says less regulation benefits consumers and governments alike.
“There are cities that don’t even regulate food trucks,” Pearson said. “Oakland Park, in southern Florida, for example, has revitalized [its] downtown area by inviting food trucks in and getting out of their way.”
‘Blowing Up’ Regulations
Sal Nuzzo, vice president of policy at the James Madison Institute, says city lawmakers should get with the times.
“The regulatory structure, which was developed in the 20th century, isn’t modern enough to adapt to 21st century technologies and innovations,” Nuzzo said. “I would make the case for blowing up the entire regulatory system and starting from scratch.”
Nuzzo says fighting to keep superior products and services away from consumers is a losing battle for lawmakers.
“Look at how 21st century innovation disrupts markets,” Nuzzo said. “Of course there should be commonsense regulations in place, but those regulations should not be ones that allow entrenched competitors to stifle market entrants. Innovation, in the end, will win out.”
Elizabeth BeShears ([email protected]) writes from Trussville, Alabama.
Elan Shpigel, “Chicago’s Over-Burdensome Regulation Of Mobile Food Vending,” Northwestern Journal of Law & Social Policy: https://www.heartland.org/policy-documents/chicagos-over-burdensome-regulation-mobile-food-vending/