City of South Padre Island calls special meeting to discuss food truck laws

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City of South Padre Island calls special meeting to discuss food truck laws (Source: KGBT)

The fate of food trucks on South Padre Island remains in the air after the city chose not to make a decision on its food truck laws during a special meeting Monday morning.

The meeting comes just a day before the city and its attorneys are due in court to explain why they shouldn’t face legal penalties for their food truck permit requirements.

But after hearing testimony from food truck owners, the city decided Monday morning not to change its food truck laws.

“The city’s position is that the ordinance is valid until declared invalid by court of law,” said Ricardo Navarro, the city’s attorney.

In February, two food truck owners teamed up with the Institute of Justice to file a lawsuit challenging two permit requirements, including a cap on permits meaning there can be no more than 12 food trucks on the island, along with having to find a restaurant owner to sign off on a permit.

“There should be some regulation that relates to health and safety, but we shouldn’t have to ask permission from a restaurant owner to operate,” said Erica Lerma, who is one of the food truck owners taking legal action against the city.

“My understanding is they have filed applications and they have not met the criteria for getting the permit, that’s my understanding,” said Navarro.

Managing Attorney of the Institute of Justice, Arif Panju, said the city been resisting efforts in providing information about how the restrictions became law.

CBS 4 asked the city about those requirements.

“I really don’t know,” said Navarro. “Again, the legal issues that got me involved in this didn’t surface until Friday and so since that time, I have been doing a lot of catch up.”

The lawsuit claims the ordinances are unconstitutional, but not all food truck owners on South Padre Island feel that way.

“I think we had it up and running in about two days, the process was pretty fair and easy,” said one food truck owner before the city council during public comment.

“We’re here to help you to tighten this thing up so that it can go on forever,” said Jerry Leal, owner of Pineapple Ninjas during public comment.

Navarro said he will meet up with the defense attorney and plaintiffs’ attorney to get a better understanding of the case, but also to provide the city council his legal opinion to determine which direction they should take regarding the food truck permit requirements.

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