Food truck case goes to Illinois Supreme Court

Lawsuit by Courageous Bakery owner claims ordinance unconstitutional

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By Timothy Inklebarger

Staff Reporter

The owner of a popular Oak Park restaurant made her case before the state's highest court on Jan. 23, claiming Chicago's food truck ordinance is unconstitutional.

Laura Pekarik, owner of Courageous Bakery & Cafe, 736 Lake St., sued the city over its ordinance that prevents food trucks from selling within 200 feet of a brick-and-mortar businesses that sell food and also requires them to install GPS tracking devices.

Pekarik could not immediately be reached for comment.

Robert Frommer, an attorney for the Institute of Justice, who is representing Pekarik, made arguments to the Illinois Supreme Court this week. Pekarik has lost two court battles in the lawsuit, so far.

He said in a telephone interview he expects a decision from the court within the next few months.

Frommer said the justices were "very engaged" at the hearing and "highly skeptical of the city's arguments."

He said Chicago is one of a handful of cities across the country that requires food trucks to install GPS tracking devices.

The city has argued that it needs the GPS tracking so it can find food trucks to conduct health inspections in the field, but it has never done so, Frommer told Wednesday Journal.

"The idea that the program has never been used for the purpose it claimed to be used for shows it's not necessary," Frommer said.

He added that other cities with GPS requirements can only share that information with their health departments and the data is deleted after 24 hours, unlike Chicago's ordinance, which opens the data to anyone and is made available for six months after it is recorded.

Other cities, such as San Antonio, Texas, have repealed their proximity provisions after facing lawsuits.

"Whether your business succeeds or not should turn on how good your food is, not who you know at City Hall," Frommer said.

tim@oakpark.com

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Alice Wellington  

Posted: January 27th, 2019 9:55 PM

Are people looking to get a nice sit-down dinner going to grab a sandwich from a truck instead? No way. It's not a competition. They're going after a different clientele, and BTW, the trucks are paying taxes, too. I hope Ms. Pekarik wins her case.

Tom MacMillan from Oak Park  

Posted: January 27th, 2019 7:34 PM

How much in property tax does a food truck pay, to park in essentially the same spot that a brick and mortar business occupies? If the answer is none, then how is it ever justice to have anyone in a truck compete that way? If a customer gets sick on the food, and the truck says he wasn't there, wouldn't GPS data be nice for everyone to have access to, to resolve the truth? In New York they have sidewalk carts that people buy licenses to occupy with their carts.

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