El Paso Being Sued For Nearly Outlawing Mobile Food Vendors

Many entrepreneurs have taken advantage of the meals-on-wheels idea, turning ice cream trucks and vans into mobile restaurants.  However, the city of El Paso has made it clear that mobile food vendors are not welcome by setting some very strict rules on how they are allowed to operate their businesses.

Back in my younger days I remember waiting for the taco truck to swig by the warehouse I worked in. Despite just having breakfast, the sweltering Texas heat has a way of quickly building up your appetite making a breakfast burrito irresistible. And sure enough the van would pull up about the same time each day to provide brunch for a warehouse full of hungry workers.
Sadly, if I were working in El Paso today it would be nearly impossible for a mobile food vendor to do the same thing. KVIA explains:

The vendors find two subsections in the ordinance troubling. One of them bans mobile vendors from “parking and awaiting” customers. The other part that’s being challenged deals with distance. Vendors are banned from parking within 1,000 feet of any place that sells food like restaurants, grocery stores and even soup kitchens. That’s a little more than the length of 2.5 average football fields.

It should not be hard to realize that the mobile food vendors in El Paso cannot operate with such restricting rules. Understandably, they are feeling that El Paso has told them to close down shop and support brick and mortar restaurants. So much for the “pursuit of Happiness.” But disgruntled vendors aren’t going down without a fight and the Institute for Justice is ready to help!

Officials in El Paso have recently made it illegal for mobile food vendors to operate within 1,000 feet of any restaurant, convenience store, or grocer. The city even prohibits vendors from parking to await customers, which forces vendors to constantly drive around town until a customer successfully flags them down — and then be on the move again as soon as the customer walks away.

Thus, instead of embracing their vending entrepreneurs, El Paso has decided to threaten them with thousands of dollars in fines and effectively run them out of town. This anti-competitive scheme is illegal because vending entrepreneurs have a constitutional right to earn an honest living free from unreasonable regulations.

And that’s why today IJ filed a major federal lawsuit against the city…

It boils down to this: Should the city of El Paso, Texas, be allowed to turn itself into a No-Vending Zone in order to protect brick-and-mortar restaurants from competition? Thankfully, the U.S. Constitution prohibits such abuses of government power. Simply put, naked protectionism is not constitutional.

That’s why vending entrepreneurs teamed up with IJ to sue El Paso today in federal court. And keep an eye out for us; we may soon be teaming up with entrepreneurs near you!

IJ has been an champion organization that pursues the overbearing arm of government. They have launched clever videos to promote their previous cases, including: Camp Politics, Clean Elections. This case is no exception:

  • Guest

    I agree El Paso protects only the rich people they don't care how the become rich. Many mexican nationals opened restaurants and bars and they don't have any problems with the city or INS. Money talks. I lived in Germany and food vendors are great (clean and good food) any big city has traditional food vendors with unique foods and receipes.

  • Libra

    I vite for the pursuit of happiness and I hope LJ wins this law suit against the city. For those of us who work hard and have limited time to go to a restaurant, a truck vendor is an awesome and convenient way to get food. No wonder our economy is suffering!

  • nana

    With the way the economy is today, they need to allow street vendors to sell to make an honest living, or would the city of El Paso prefer to have criminals make money by robbing banks and stores. I stand with allowing all vendors try to make an honest living by selling.