Business owners say they’ve sued Jacksonville over city rules that effectively ban food trucks

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The Institute for Justice says it has worked with a group of small business owners to sue the City of Jacksonville over its “anti-competitive regulations of food trucks on private property.”

The Institute for Justice says the city’s restrictions effectively ban food trucks from operating in more than 96% of the city.

“Jacksonville’s restrictions on food trucks serve no legitimate purpose,” IJ Attorney Bob Belden said. “The city is simply seeking to protect established brick-and-mortar restaurants from competition, and that’s no role for the government.”

Nicole Gonzalez, owner of Northwoods Urban Farm, brought the lawsuit. She wants to host food trucks on her property. Anthony “Tony” Proctor, owner of The Spot food truck and Octavius “Ray” Raymond, owner of The Cheesesteak Hustle food truck and its commissary, are also a part of the lawsuit.

WITN is told that the goal of the lawsuit is to strike down three different regulations imposed by Jacksonville on food trucks and/or property owners who want to welcome food trucks onto their land.

  • First, property owners cannot host a food truck if the property falls within 250 feet of property containing another food truck, a restaurant or residential housing.
  • Second, the city restricts a food truck’s ability to advertise by limiting operators to one 5×5 sign with no external lighting, which cannot be above the truck and must be within 20 feet of the truck.
  • Third, the city requires all food trucks to pay an arbitrary annual permit fee of $300 (for residents) or $500 (for non-residents), even though almost all food truck oversight comes from the county and state, not the city. This is much higher than neighboring towns, some of which do not charge any fee at all.

The City of Jacksonville responded to the news on Wednesday, saying: