National Street Vending Initiative: York, Pa.

Thanks to the tireless efforts of the Central Pennsylvania Mobile Food Association, York’s mayor has signed into law new regulations that will allow mobile vendors to operate throughout the city, unencumbered by any sort of protectionist or anti-competitive laws.

The small but vibrant city of York, Pennsylvania, has a large creative scene and a strong sense of local pride. But because the laws on mobile vending lagged way behind other cities that have embraced food trucks, this industry—founded by proud, creative entrepreneurs —has struggled to take off.

In December 2013, the city tried to refresh its laws on mobile vendors, but the “updated” code would have banned food trucks and only allowed food carts, confined mobile vendors to a small part of the city, prevented them from operating within 200 feet of each other, and artificially limited the number of carts to six. In other words, the new law would have been unconstitutional and an illegitimate use of government power. All street vendors—like all entrepreneurs—have the constitutional right to earn an honest living, free from arbitrary, burdensome, and anti-competitive regulation.

Teaming up with the Central Pennsylvania Mobile Food Association, the Institute for Justice sent a stern letter to the city council opposing the protectionist measures in the “updated” bill. The bill was tabled and eventually drastically altered so that it only stipulated regulations that had direct implications on the public’s health and safety.

On April 8th, 2015 York’s city council passed new legislation that allows food trucks and food carts to operate throughout York, The mayor signed the legislation within 10 days of its passage, turning York’s mobile vending regulations from antiquated and ill formed, to a tailored and appropriate ordinance that restores the right to earn an honest living for these entrepreneurs and creates a fantastic arena for a thriving mobile vending industry.