Arlington, Va.—The Maryland Court of Special Appeals yesterday reinstated Baltimore’s ban on mobile vendors operating within 300 feet of any brick and mortar establishment selling similar food. This overturns a 2017 Baltimore Circuit Court ruling that declared the city’s 300-foot ban too vague to enforce. The Institute for Justice (IJ) and two food trucks, Pizza di Joey and Mindgrub Café, first challenged the rule in 2016 and will ask the Maryland Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, to reconsider the ruling.
“This decision embracing protectionism does not square with the Maryland constitution,” said IJ Senior Attorney Rob Frommer. “For decades, Maryland courts have turned away efforts to stifle one private business in order to benefit another. Economic liberty is the cornerstone of the American Dream and we will continue the fight for that dream at the Maryland Court of Appeals.”
Joey Vanoni, owner and operator of Pizza di Joey, said, “This decision is disappointing, not just for me and other food truck entrepreneurs, but also for my fellow Baltimore City residents. They love food trucks and what we have to offer them. We have not come this far to give up now. I’m ready for the next round!”
Joey, a Navy veteran, opened the Pizza di Joey food truck in 2014 after returning from Afghanistan. Joey opened the food truck with two missions: serve the diverse neighborhoods of Baltimore delicious New York-style slices made in a 4,000 pound brick oven and provide job opportunities for fellow veterans. Unfortunately, because of the 300-foot rule, the Pizza di Joey food truck was spending less time on the road. With the ban now reinstated, vendors caught violating the law—which was passed at the request of the retail-business lobby—would be guilty of a misdemeanor, could face $500 in fines for each violation and the loss of their license to vend.