Food Trucks

San Antonio Overturns Ban on Food Trucks

Sweet freedom.


San Antonio on Thursday repealed its ordinance prohibiting food trucks from operating within 300 feet of any restaurant, grocer or convenience store.

Challenged on constitutional grounds, the 33-year-old regulation was ditched in a unanimous council vote after City Attorney Martha Sepeda ruled the city's case was "not defensible."

"Hopefully, San Antonio is beginning to recognize that the government cannot use its power to pick winners and losers in the marketplace," said Arif Panju, an Institute for Justice lawyer representing food truckers.

As reported by, a group of truck owners sued the city Oct. 6. Plaintiffs were Rafael Lopez, who operates the El Bandera Jalisco food truck; father and son Regino and Bernardo Soriano and their El Bandolero food trucks; and Ricardo Quintanilla, who operates the Tacos el Regio food truck.

"I am glad that our lawsuit forced the city to do the right thing," Quintanilla said Thursday. "I am happy that I can now focus on running my business instead of worrying about getting shut down if a restaurant opens nearby."

The San Antonio repeal means the city "recognizes that entrepreneurs should not need their competitors' permission to operate a business," said Matt Miller, managing attorney of IJ's Texas office in Austin.

Bert Gall, who directs the institute's National Street Vending Initiative, called the council's decision "a big win for street vendors throughout Texas and the rest of the country who face similar unconstitutional restrictions on their right to earn an honest living."

During a brief discussion, Councilman Mike Gallagher said "brick and mortar restaurants that pay taxes" could be disadvantaged by the repeal. In the end, he voted for revocation.

The Metro Health Department said it would "step up enforcement" of food trucks in the evening hours to ensure that licensing laws are followed.

This article originally appeared at

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  1. No doubt next they will try some heavy regulations to disguise their contempt for individuals initiative and love of campaign donations from the entrenched restaurants.

    Is there any kind of citizen noise in favor of food trucks? That’s their best bet — become so popular that any attempt to stop them will prompt loud rallies or lots of phone calls and radio programs.

  2. Food trucks can be at the forefront of gastro innovation…. And usually not at much different price points than brick and mortar restaurants (they after all also have to pass health inspections, have overhead expenses, etc.). Restaurants were afraid of the competition; the simplest solution is to make better and/or more imaginative food.

  3. “brick and mortar restaurants that pay taxes protection money” could be disadvantaged by the repeal

  4. I’m pretty sure a court in NY ruled within the last year that the government explicitly had the right to pick winners and losers as a form of regulation.

  5. “The Metro Health Department said….”
    Translation: We’ll just find some other bureaucratic method of getting what we want. Darned if we’ll let those stupid citizens get in our way.
    This has been the traditional mindset of the government “of the people, by the people and for the people.” It has just been exacerbated in the last 7 or 8 years by the power of the imperial pen and phone. The government should be doing what is best for all, rather than what is best for the few already in position. In this case by allowing open competition for business. Repeatedly special interests (read existing businesses) have used the power of government licensing to bar competitors from poaching their customers. Make the competitor get a license after passing onerous tests, which the existing business is grandfathered from taking, paying large licensing fees, and at times having “prove” that opening a business is “needed” to serve a shortcoming by current license holders.

    1. The “special interests” extend far beyond existing local/regional businesses. EPA, National Restaurant Association, City building codes, insurers, etc. have a far more onerous impact on new business development than regulatory capture by existing businesses.

      Frankly, I’d like to see some Reason articles going after the money/regulatory trail impacting ALL businesses rather than focusing solely on trendy businesses like food trucks.

  6. Councilman Mike Gallagher said “brick and mortar restaurants that pay taxes” could be disadvantaged by the repeal. In the end, he voted for revocation.

    Next on the agenda: “Tax on food trucks.”

    1. They use da Roadz !!1!1

      -Prog Derp

  7. No recognition yet that government licensing and enforcement are protection rackets.

  8. I’m making over $7k a month working part time. I kept hearing other people tell me how much money they can make online so I decided to look into it. Well, it was all true and has totally changed my life. For further details, Check this link………….

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