Baltimore attorneys will be arguing Tuesday that a judge’s order against a limited ban on food trucks operating within 300 feet of restaurants should be lifted, while attorneys for the other side will be arguing the order should go even further.
In the December 2017 order, Circuit Court Judge Karen C. Friedman ruled that a city ordinance forbidding food trucks, in certain instances, from operating within 300 feet of a business was unconstitutionally vague. Specifically, she ruled against language prohibiting a “vendor truck” from parking within 300 feet of a retail business “primarily engaged in selling the same type of food product...as that offered by the mobile vendor.”
The problem, the judge said, was with the terms “primarily engaged in” and “same type of food product.” She prohibited the city from enforcing its ban, writing, “enforcement is likely to be subjective and arbitrary until the ordinance has been clarified by amendments.”
In a hearing set for Tuesday morning at the Court of Special Appeals in Annapolis, City Solicitor Andre M. Davis will ask that Friedman’s ruling be set aside and that the city be allowed to enforce the ordinance. “There is nothing vague about it,” he said.
The judge did, however, uphold the city’s right to mandate such a 300-foot buffer between food trucks and restaurants; such a law, she wrote, promotes the “general welfare by ensuring the vibrancy of commercial districts.”
Lawyers for the food trucks are arguing that sort of regulation unconstitutionally gives preferential treatment to one type of business over another, and are asking for that part of Friedman’s decision to be struck down.
“We want the courts to declare in no uncertain terms” that restaurants can not be afforded such protection, said attorney Robert Frommer of the Arlington, Va.-based Institute for Justice, which is arguing the case against the ordinance.