Victory for Carolina Beach Food Trucks

Institute for Justice · October 10, 2018

Carolina Beach, N.C.—At a public town council meeting last night, the Carolina Beach council announced that it intends to make Carolina Beach a leader for food truck freedom and remove, rather than enact, barriers to competition. This comes six weeks after it repealed an unconstitutional ordinance requiring food truck owners own a brick-and-mortar restaurant in town. The town repealed that ordinance only a week after a lawsuit from the Institute for Justice, but left the door open to the possibility of creating other barriers to competition. After last night’s meeting, that door is now closed.

Instead of finding ways to limit food trucks, the town improved food truck regulations, making it easier for businesses to invite food trucks onto their properties. The city council also discussed other ideas to encourage food trucks, like rescinding their annual permit fee and allowing them to park in public parking lots.

“We are thrilled that Carolina Beach has finally decided it wants to welcome food trucks,” said Justin Pearson, a senior attorney at IJ. “Although there is still room for improvement, the brick-and-mortar requirement is gone for good, and we are hopeful that Carolina Beach will follow through with its plans to become a leader for food trucks and consumer choice.”

“It’s not the government’s job to pick winners and losers in the marketplace,” Pearson continued. “That choice belongs to customers.”

When Carolina Beach first enacted its ordinance, it did so to prevent “outsiders” from competing with local restaurants. But protectionism is not a legitimate government interest under the North Carolina Constitution. That’s why on August 21, food truck owners Michelle Rock, Aaron & Monica Cannon, and Harley Bruce teamed up with IJ to challenge the constitutionality of the anti-competitive ordinance.

“More freedom for food trucks means more choices for customers, which is good for the whole island community,” said Michelle Rock, owner of T’Geaux Boys and Momma Rock’s Desserts.

“I’m very, very pleased and look forward to working in Carolina Beach and serving the people there,” A & M’s Red Food Truck owner Aaron Cannon said.

IJ fights for vendors’ rights across the country through its National Street Vending Initiative. IJ lawsuits in San AntonioEl Paso and Louisville successfully eliminated protectionist laws that banned food trucks from operating near their brick-and-mortar competitors. IJ will be arguing against unconstitutional food truck regulations before the Illinois Supreme Court. IJ is also litigating food truck cases in Baltimore and Fish Creek, Wis.

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