While other cities were celebrating Independence Day, Cranston, Rhode Island clamped down on economic liberty. On the Fourth of July, Cranston’s new food truck regulations took effect, meaning this Providence suburb now has some of the worst vending restrictions in the country.
Food trucks are banned from serving food “within one thousand feet of any established business licensed to sell food by the city,” making it downright illegal for food trucks to serve most of Cranston. At 1,000 feet, Cranston now has the longest enforced proximity restriction in the entire nation.
On June 24th, five council members voted in favor of the restrictions. Only two voted against, while another two were absent. After Mayor Allan Fung declined to veto the ordinance, it took effect 10 days later, ironically limiting vendor and consumer freedom on Independence Day.
Richard Santamaria, the councilman who introduced the ordinance, even admitted these regulations were intended to protect established restaurants. Not only is this blatantly unconstitutional, as the Institute for Justice has previously noted, the last city that implemented a 1,000 foot proximity ban quickly abandoned it in response to a lawsuit:
Take El Paso. This city passed an ordinance that would have banned mobile vendors from selling within 1,000 feet of any restaurant, convenience store, or grocer. But the Institute for Justice sued the city in federal court. In response, officials scrapped the proximity ban, protecting the rights of all entrepreneurs to make an honest living.
— Nick Sibilla
Nick Sibilla is a writer at the Institute for Justice