The Rules for Food Trucks in Illinois Could Soon Change

The Rules for Food Trucks in Illinois Could Soon Change

ILLINOIS (IRN) — The Illinois Supreme Court will decide if Chicago’s food truck regulations, which require GPS tracking and prohibit parking near brick-and-mortar restaurants, are constitutional.

Laura Pekarik, owner of LMP Service’s Cupcakes for Courage, sued the city over the regulations in 2012, claiming the restrictions were unconstitutional because they only served to protect existing restaurant businesses.

Pekarik’s attorney, Robert Frommer of the Institute for Justice, told Illinois Supreme Court Justices in Springfield on Wednesday during oral arguments in the case that the city’s regulations were designed to forestall competition, not to guard against congestion. Lower courts have twice sided with the city.

“Other state supreme courts, including the New York Court of Appeals, the New Jersey Supreme Court, courts in California and other states, they’ve all rejected municipal efforts to hobble vendors in order to benefit brick-and-mortar retailers,” he said. “And if you affirm this, if you say that the government has this power to purposely discriminate – to hobble one industry for the direct financial benefit of another based on these incidental benefits – there’s no stopping point.”

The city has said the restrictions are reasonable and that it has tried to balance a number of competing interests and public benefits.

“A rule that applies to just one business and is triggered only by the location of that business’s competitors is not reasonably conceivable as a congestion measure,” Frommer said.

Suzanne Loose, representing the city of Chicago, said the balancing act showed that city wasn’t trying to protect restaurants at the expense of food trucks.

“In this case, the circuit court and appellate court correctly rejected LMP’s constitutional challenges because the 200-foot rule is rationally related to several legitimate government interests and the GPS requirement is not an unreasonable search,” Loose said.

The regulations weren’t designed to “hobble” food trucks.

“The purpose is not to suppress competition, but to protect the many benefits that brick and mortars do bring to Chicago,” she said.

The Illinois Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case later this year.