Food truck operators have gained another ally in their efforts to receive permission to operate in the city of Akron.
The Institute For Justice Tuesday sent a letter to Akron City Council asking it to change the citys' ordinance to allow food trucks to operate within city limits. The Institute For Justice is a non-profit libertarian public interest law firm providing pro bono legal advice and representation to entrepenuers, and other seeking economic justice.
Area food truck operators also announced that they are forming a coalition to push for the right to operate in Akron. The new coalition will be called the Greater Akron Food Truck Coalition.
The Coalition in a news release says it will advocate for laws that will allow food trucks to operate in the city, and ensure that food trucks meet the same health and safety standards as brick-and-mortar restaurants. The Coalition supports legislation that is narrowly tailored to protecting the public’s health and safety, while allowing trucks to freely operate on public streets.
News Release From The Greater Akron Food Truck Coalition
Akron, Ohio—Today, food trucks from across the Akron area are announcing the formation of a new organization, the Greater Akron Food Truck Coalition. Akron currently prohibits food trucks from operating on public property. This ban is unconstitutional and harms the communities that are being denied the many benefits of food trucks.
The Coalition will advocate for laws that will allow food trucks to operate in the city, and ensure that food trucks meet the same health and safety standards as brick-and-mortar restaurants. The Coalition supports legislation that is narrowly tailored to protecting the public’s health and safety, while allowing trucks to freely operate on public streets.
Some brick-and-mortar restaurants and the Downtown Akron Partnership have advocated against opening up Akron’s streets to food trucks, fearing that the competition the trucks create will hurt their businesses. But banning food trucks in order to protect established businesses from competition is unconstitutional.
Akron should embrace food trucks, as they improve local business scenes—including restaurants —by increasing foot traffic in communities, keep the streets safe, and activate less-populated areas. Food trucks and restaurants serve two different customers and are not competing for the same dollar.
“Akron has a unique opportunity to pass legislation that embraces the food truck revolution instead of rejecting us and driving it out of town,” said Jeffrey Winer, president of the Coalition and owner of The Orange Truk. “Cities across the country are currently considering how to regulate food trucks, and Akron can be an example heralded nationally for passing a law that allows food trucks to operate and is limited to protecting the public’s health and safety, which is what the government is supposed to do - not protect established businesses from competition.”
Last week, the Coalition met with the Institute for Justice, a national public interest, civil liberties law firm that advocates in the courts of law and public opinion on behalf of entrepreneurs. The Institute has successfully challenged in court vending laws in El Paso and Atlanta, and is currently suing Hialeah and most recently Chicago. IJ is also working with dozens of food truck groups across the country to reform laws at the local level.
“Considering the immense benefits food trucks provide entrepreneurs on the first rung of the economic ladder and the communities they serve, Akron officials should welcome food trucks onto their streets,” said Christina Walsh, director of activism and coalitions at the Institute for Justice. “Akron’s ban on food trucks raises grave constitutional concerns, and we look forward to working with the city to ensure laws that are passed pass constitutional muster and foster entrepreneurship and economic growth for all - not stifle it on behalf of a few businesses who don’t want the competition.”