Protectionism

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It seems like every day I read another article about a city somewhere in the United States that has decided that their constituents needs are best served by limiting competition through unfair food truck laws.  It always starts off with a mayor, or a city council person proclaiming that they have to protect local restaurants from competition.  Maybe they should start protecting their constituents from businesses that don’t want to compete for their dollar.  When a city decides that they want two segments of the food service industry to negotiate how best to split the consumer dollar, they are doing their city a disservice.   This type of negotiation is usually called “compromise” by city officials, but to the average consumer it looks more like collusion.  A city government should not tell it’s citizenry how and where they should spend their money.

In 1979 a California appellate court ruled; “ we conclude that section 80.73(b) 2A(2)(bb) (100 foot buffer zone) is a “rather naked restraint of trade,” and determine that it is “ . . . arbitrarily made for the mere purpose of classification.”  In other words, the court found that the 100 foot buffer zone was unconstitutional.  Regulations must be made to serve the public good.  A city must show that there is a rational basis for the regulation.  Restricting competition does not serve the public good.

If you’re a food truck operator, or a a food truck fan, it’s important to control the message.  When a city official says food trucks engage in “unfair competition”, explain to them that you’re concerned with “consumer choice,”  Ask a city official if they’ve tried to ban pizza places from delivering pizza near restaurants.  Inquire about how the city tried to limit Netflix deliveries by Blockbuster Video stores.  Ask why they think competition is unhealthy for the market place.

Competition is good for your community.  Restaurants have an incredible advantage over food trucks.  Shelter, seating, alcohol and on-site restrooms are hard to compete with.

-Matt Geller
CEO SoCal Mobile Food Vendors Association

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