National Street Vending Initiative: Birmingham, Ala.
On December 17th, 2013 the Birmingham City Council passed harmful legislation creating limited food truck zones, prohibiting operation beyond 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and establishing an unconstitutional 150-foot proximity restriction. Paget Pizitz, small business entrepreneur and vice president of the Greater Birmingham Street Food Coalition, called the new ordinance “restrictive and oppressive,” adding “it could put many of the trucks, carts and trailers out of business.”
Working with the Institute for Justice, food trucks from across Birmingham created the Greater Birmingham Street Food Coalition in 2012 in order to promote and protect the street food industry. The Coalition supports modern and clear regulations that allow food trucks and carts to operate free of anti-competitive restrictions that threaten to shut down their businesses in order to protect existing restaurants from competition. The Coalition serves as a single point of contact for local government officials, brick-and-mortar restaurants, and members of the public to foster and maintain positive relations.
In response to the growing popularity of food trucks in Birmingham, the City Council approved an ordinance that effectively shuts down the growing and welcoming scene. Provisions in the ordinance include a 150-foot proximity restriction around existing brick-and-mortar restaurants; arbitrary restrictions on hours of operation; and excessively restrictive zones. These provisions have nothing to do with protecting the public’s health and safety, but instead are designed to protect established businesses from competition—an unconstitutional use of government power. Such laws are routinely struck down by courts.
The Coalition proposed its own draft ordinance, which limits itself to protecting the public’s health and safety, with one major concession: it proposes that food trucks are prohibited from operating directly in front of a restaurant. Unfortunately, the City Council failed to accept the compromise proposal.
Read what Rom Mendez, owner of Cantina on Wheels, had to say about the city’s ordinance.
IJ releases statement on behalf of Birmingham food trucks
On December 6, 2012, the Institute for Justice (IJ) and its National Street Vending Initiative sent the mayor and city council its views about the proposed regulations.