Illinois Supreme Court upholds city food truck restrictions

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The Illinois Supreme Court has upheld city mandates on food trucks that keep them 200 feet away from ground floor, brick-and-mortar restaurants.

The decision follows a series of legal battles since the City Council passed an ordinance specifying restrictions in 2012. Food truck interests filed a suit two weeks later. LMP services, Inc. filed the recent complaint.

Food truck advocates say the restriction blocks trucks from freely competing in the marketplace.

The opinion written by Justice Anne Burke states both entities are “important businesses that bring significant benefits to the City. However, they do so in very different ways.”

“The restaurants pay property taxes and have a vested interest in seeing that their neighborhoods continue to grow and thrive so that their own businesses will flourish,” Burke said. She added that food trucks operate on an appeal of “mobility, not stability.”

The opinion was concurred with by Chief Justice Lloyd Karmeier and justices Thomas Kilbride, Rita Garman, Mary Jane Theis, and P. Scott Neville Jr.

The opinion upheld the requirement that food trucks be equipped with GPS tracking devices so the city can track them. Former Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office designated spaces for licensed trucks to operate, but many trucks still complained the new rules were unfair.

A 2016 investigation by the Chicago Sun-Times and ABC7 Chicago’s I-Team found trucks were frequently breaking city rules without consequence because of lack of enforcement. The investigation also found the city never asked any food truck vendors to provide GPS data as required by the ordinance.

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