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Illinois Supreme Court hears Chicago food trucks case

January 24, 2019

CHICAGO (AP) — The Illinois Supreme Court will decide in the coming months if Chicago’s food truck regulations are unconstitutional.

The state’s high court on Wednesday heard oral arguments in a case that dates back to 2012, The Chicago Tribune reported.

Laura Pekarik, who runs a food truck called Cupcakes for Courage, sued the city shortly after it introduced regulations that require trucks to park at least 200 feet from businesses that serve food and to have a city-monitored GPS device to help facilitate health inspections violates privacy protections, among other things. She says the regulations unfairly suppress competition and favor restaurants.

“What’s right is right, and you can’t protect one industry from another,” Pekarik said.

Chicago officials have said the city has the right to “balance the interests of food trucks and those of restaurants.”

“The purpose is not to suppress competition but to protect the many benefits that bricks-and-mortar restaurants bring to Chicago: tax revenue, jobs, they make a major contribution to tourism and bring cultural contributions to the city,” city attorney Suzanne Loose argued in court Wednesday.

A Cook County Circuit Court judge ruled in favor of the city in 2016 and an appellate court upheld that decision the following year.

Chicago is one of the most difficult cities for food truck operators, according to a report last year from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which analyzed cities’ regulatory environments for food trucks.

Local food truck operators say the restrictions have caused many of the mobile food vendors to go out of business. There are about 65 active food trucks in Chicago, which is about half the number there were before the ordinance took effect in 2012, said Gabriel Wiesen, president of the Illinois Food Truck Association.

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