Victory for San Antonio Food Trucks

Institute for Justice · November 19, 2015

San Antonio—Today, the San Antonio City Council repealed a decades-old law that prohibits food trucks from operating within 300 feet of any restaurant, grocer or convenience store. The change comes in response to a lawsuit filed by the Institute for Justice (IJ) last month on behalf of four San Antonio food truck owners.

“San Antonio’s 300-foot ban against food trucks was unconstitutional and its repeal marks an important victory for our clients and the economic liberty of every entrepreneur in this city,” said IJ attorney Arif Panju, lead counsel in Lopez v. San Antonio. “Hopefully, San Antonio is beginning to recognize that the government cannot use its power to pick winners and losers in the marketplace. IJ will keep a close watch on San Antonio and will be back if the city decides to reinstate these unconstitutional restrictions in the future.”


On October 6th, a group of San Antonio food truck owners teamed up with the Institute for Justice to challenge the city’s 300-foot ban in court as a clear violation of Texans’ right to economic liberty—the right to earn an honest living. IJ represents Rafael Lopez who operates the El Bandera Jalisco food truck; father and son Regino and Bernardo Soriano and their El Bandolero food trucks; and Ricardo Quintanilla, who operates the Tacos el Regio food truck.

“The repeal of the 300-foot ban is long overdue, and I am glad that our lawsuit forced the city to do the right thing,” said Ricardo Quintanilla. “I am happy that I can now focus on running my business instead of worrying about getting shut down if a restaurant opens nearby.”

This June, in a landmark ruling in another case brought by IJ, the Texas Supreme Court decided Patel v. Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. That decision made clear that the Texas Constitution provides greater protection to economic liberty than the U.S. Constitution, and that review of economic regulation must be meaningful, robust protection for economic liberty.

“Today’s repeal means that San Antonio recognizes that entrepreneurs should not need their competitors’ permission to operate a business,” said Matt Miller, Managing Attorney of IJ’s Texas Office.

“This is a big win, not just for food-truck entrepreneurs in San Antonio, but for street vendors throughout Texas and the rest of the country who face similar unconstitutional restrictions on their right to earn an honest living. Today’s victory shows that when street vendors take a stand and fight for that right, they can—and should—prevail,” said Bert Gall, an IJ senior attorney who directs IJ’s National Street Vending Initiative.

The Institute for Justice is the nation’s leading legal advocate for the rights of entrepreneurs. For more on IJ’s lawsuit against San Antonio, click here.