Taco Wars No Mas?

Published October 8, 2008

Dear Editor:

The recent truce called between the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and “taco truck” operators in unincorporated portions of the county (“Effort against LA-area taco trucks loses its bite,” Denise Petski, Associated Press, October 4) is a welcome victory for free markets and consumer choice.

Back in April, Supervisor Gloria Molina’s ordinance raised the penalty on taco trucks that fail to move every 30 minutes in a residential zone or every 60 minutes in a commercial zone. The new penalties included fines to up to $1,000 as well as the possibility of six months in jail.

Just as defiant truck operators vowed to violate the ordinance, they received relief from Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Dennis Aicroth, who ruled in August that “Since there is no rational basis for requiring a catering truck to be moved half a mile every 60 minutes (or every 30 minutes), this attempt to restrict the operation of catering trucks from the location at which they would prefer to be parked is a pretext for creating a ‘naked restraint of trade’ and, as such, must be declared invalid.” The district attorney’s office said last week it won’t appeal Judge Aicroth’s decision.

When governments set up barriers to restrict trade they stifle the entrepreneurial spirit and deny consumers the option of deciding for themselves. We should hope this lesson resonates with the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors and their counterparts nationwide: No mas!

Ralph W. Conner ([email protected]) is local legislation manager at The Heartland Institute.