Lawsuit Challenges San Antonio Food Truck Regulations

click to enlarge Regino Soriano is one of the plaintiffs in a case challenging San Antonio's food truck laws. - Courtesy Institute for Justice
Courtesy Institute for Justice
Regino Soriano is one of the plaintiffs in a case challenging San Antonio's food truck laws.

Should San Antonio food trucks have to ask permission to set up near brick-and-mortar restaurants?

That’s the question asked by lawyers from the Institute for Justice, a Virginia-based libertarian-leaning law firm that recently filed a lawsuit against the City of San Antonio over an ordinance which requires food trucks within 300 feet of a food-related business to get permission to operate.

“No one should need their competitors’ permission to run a business,” Arif Panju, the lead counsel for the food truck operators, said in a news release. “We wouldn’t expect a mom-and-pop hardware store to get permission from Home Depot to open down the street, and, for the same reason, we shouldn’t expect food truck owners to have to get permission from restaurants.”

The Institute for Justice is representing four food truck owners: Rafael Lopez of El Bandera Jalisco, Regino Soriano of El Bandolero, Bernardo Soriano of El Bandolero II and Ricardo Quintanilla of Tacos el Regio. The plaintiffs argue that the ordinance gives preferential treatment to restaurants, grocery stores and convenience stores over food trucks. Operating a food truck within 300 feet of such a business without permission can carry a $2,000 fine.

“Laws like San Antonio’s that harm food trucks in order to protect brick-and-mortar establishments from competition are unconstitutional, and we aim to put a stop to them — both in Texas and across the country,” said Bert Gall, an Institute for Justice lawyer.

This isn’t the Institute for Justice’s first go-round with food truck laws. The firm runs a campaign targeting ordinance’s such as San Antonio’s. They’ve filed similar lawsuits in Florida, Illinois and Georgia. The firm also takes cases on issues such as the school choice and the First Amendment.

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