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Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Court Rejects Challenges to City's Food Truck Ordinance

In 2012, the City of Chicago passed an ordinance expanding food truck operations within the City. That ordinance allowed trucks to prepare food on-site (rather than in a commercial kitchen) and established various location, operation, and inspection regulations. The ordinance also authorized the City to establish fixed stands where parking space for food trucks would be reserved. Outside of these "fixed stands," the ordinance allows food trucks to park in street parking for up to 2 hours, but prohibits trucks from parking within 200 feet of any restaurant. Finally, the ordinance requires food trucks to have a permanently installed and functioning GPS device.

Shortly after the ordinance was approved, LMP (the plaintiff) filed a lawsuit challenging two provisions of the food truck ordinance: (1) the 200 foot distance requirement from restaurants and (2) the GPS requirement. LMP claimed the first requirement violated due process and equal protection and the second violated the search, seizure and privacy protections of the Illinois constitution.

The trial court ruled in favor of the City, and LMP appealed. 

With respect to LMP's argument that the distance requirement violated due process, the court first determined that the right to pursue a profession (in this case, operate a food truck) is not a fundamental right for substantive due process. As a result, the City only had to show a rational basis for the restriction. The court concluded that the City satisfied that standard in showing that the restriction was intended to strike a balance between fixed restaurants (which pay real estate taxes and other fees to the City) and food trucks. The court also noted that there is no constitutional right to conduct business from the city street or sidewalk.

The court also rejected LMP's argument that the GPS requirement violated the state constitution, finding no seizure or search where the City did not physically enter the food truck to place the device so the cases involving government installation of a GPS device were not applicable. 

Post Authored by Julie Tappendorf


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