DOWNTOWN — The city has the right to restrict where food trucks can dish out their savory and sweet dishes, a Cook County judge ruled Monday morning.
Judge Anna Helen Demacopoulos ruled the ordinance approved by the City Council in 2012 that keeps food trucks 200 feet away from any eatery; limits the trucks to no more than two hours in one location and requires the trucks to be equipped with a location-monitoring system does not violate the Illinois Constitution.
However, lawyers from the Institute for Justice representing Cupcakes for Courage food truck owner Laura Pekarik, said they will appeal the ruling.
After the ruling, Pekarik said she was "surprised and extremely disappointed" by Demacopoulos' ruling, which is the culmination of a four-year court battle over the rules imposed at the same time city officials gave food truck chefs the right to cook food on board.
Bill McCaffrey, a spokesman for the city's Law Department, praised the ruling.
“We are pleased with the ruling, which reaffirms that the ordinance strikes the right balance between the interests of food trucks and those of restaurants,” McCaffrey said.
Demacopoulos said the city ordinance strikes the right balance between the needs of "brick and mortar" restaurants and food truck owners, which she likened to a "young rising pop star."
Food trucks that violate the ordinance can face fines between $1,000 and $2,000.
Demacopoulos noted that the 200-foot boundary for food trucks has been on the books since 1991, and said she found no evidence that Pekarik's business — which now includes two trucks and a bakery in Elmhurst — had been harmed by the regulations.
Demacopoulos found there was no evidence that the 200-foot boundary for food trucks encouraged them to set up in underserved areas of the city.
In addition, the ruling rejected claims that the requirement that the trucks install a location-monitoring system constituted an illegal search or seizure.
The argument that food trucks should be able to obscure their locations from city officials is "absurd," Demacopoulos said.
Robert Frommer, Pekarik's attorney, said the law was designed to protect restaurants from "legitimate competition" from food trucks.
Chicago's food truck scene will remain "anemic" until the restrictions are lifted, Frommer said.
"The evidence is on our sides," Frommer said.
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