Lawsuit filed over Louisville rule restricting parking for food trucks
The law bars food trucks from parking within 150 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant that serves similar food.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A food fight is brewing in Louisville, after food truck vendors and traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants say the city isn't big enough for both of them.
The gauntlet was thrown down Wednesday morning when food truck operators filed a lawsuit against the city, arguing that a Louisville law that has been in place for years is unconstitutional.
The rule bars food trucks from parking within 150 feet of a brick-and-mortar restaurant that serves similar food. The vendors claim that's harmful to their business and hinders healthy competition.
"I've been cited, told to move, told they were going to tow my truck," owner of Red’s Comfort Foods truck, Robert Martin, said.
"Nobody should need their competitor's permission to operate a business," the food truck owners' Institute for Justice attorney, Arif Panju said.
"We get complaints from restaurants stating that we are too close, which I really don't understand because you have McDonalds and Burger King across the street from each other and neither one of them is calling about the other," said Troy King, owner of Pollo food truck.
Restaurants who support the mobile food unit vendor standards say they welcome competition, but the ordinance encourages fairness.
"Downtown restaurants pay a premium to be in the most densely populated part of the city," local restaurant Cravings Ala Carte attorney, Casey Krill said.
City leaders say that at the time the ordinance was written, there needed to be rules to help legitimize food trucks.
"There was some concern about unfair competition for food trucks that might be able to park right outside a restaurant that serves chicken and then someone could copy their menu and park right in front of them," said Brandon Coan, a Democratic Louisville Metro Council member who represents District 8. "They wouldn't have the same overhead costs or some of the other same health regulations and other requirements and give and unfair competitive advantage to the food trucks."
Coan helped write the original food truck ordinance. He says he would be open to revisiting it to see if there is a way to make it fairer for both food trucks and restaurants.
"Part of the city's job is to come up with rules so we can have those things in our city," said Coan. "I think it makes sense to take a look at those things as time goes by to make sure the rules still work for everybody. So I have no problem with revisiting this or any of the other laws."
"All the food trucks want is a level playing field to compete and let the customers decide," Martin said.
The Jefferson County Attorney's Office declined to comment for this story.
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