With the recent spate of hurricanes and natural disasters at the forefront of the summer news cycle, one Florida town has decided to enforce a permitting ordinance on food trucks, preventing an operator from doing his part to help his neighbors.
Following the destruction wrought by Hurricane Irma, Jack Roundtree, owner and operator of the Triple J’s BBQ truck, drove to the town of Green Cove Springs to provide disaster relief to utility crews from outside the state making the long trek to provide assistance. Shortly after setting up, Roundtree was greeted by local police who had apparently been instructed by Green Cove Springs’ city manager to enforce local permitting requirements and tell Roundtree to leave.
Turning charity into a licensed, regulated activity is anathema to the American spirit, and incidents like this serve as reminders that local officials will often elevate their need to control over the reasonable efforts to enhance the well-being of constituents.
It’s important to note that food truck ordinances are typically used to block entrepreneurs from taking customers from brick and mortar establishments. One such law prompted outrage and a lawsuit, forcing the city of El Paso to repeal its own protectionist regulations.
Charitable feeding, and the disturbing trend of government intervention into a person’s daily life has been an ongoing narrative, even in Texas. Amid growing public pressure, San Antonio was forced to dismiss charges against one victim of regulations prohibiting charitable feeding for the poor and homeless, and Dallas found itself on the wrong side of a similar suit that alleged violations of the Texas Religious Freedom Act.
These acts of goodwill and Texas’ economic future ride on her ability to preserve the model which drives the charity that flowers from growth and prosperity, namely low taxation and reasonable regulation. Interference in the people’s freedom to assist their neighbors has no place in either America, or Texas, where the spirit of helping our brethren is stronger than the urge to ask permission.