Chicago judge hears closing arguments, will finally rule if food truck laws are unconstitutional

FOX 32 NEWS - It's a courtroom fight pitting a cupcake company against the city of Chicago, and the outcome could determine just how many food trucks you'll see downtown.

Laura Pekarik's website video suggests she spends much of her time baking and decorating cupcakes. But on Wednesday, she was in a Daley Center courtroom taking on the City of Chicago's restrictions on her food truck.

“I want freedom to be able to vend my product to my customers, wherever I see fit,” Pekarik said.

Pekarik is challenging the city's requirement that food trucks parked outside designated parking zones can't be within 200 feet of a restaurant. Food trucks must also have GPS devices to track their movements. Pekarik's attorney says the city's illegally trying to protect restaurants from the competition.

“The government is deciding who wins and who loses, rather than just letting everybody compete and letting you decide where to get your lunch,” said plaintiff’s attorney Robert Frommer.

City attorneys, however, argue that the regulations aren't designed to protect restaurants. They're aimed at protecting the entire city and all of its residents.

“It rationally is related to other legitimate city interests such as managing pedestrian congestion on the sidewalks and providing incentives to food trucks to venture out into areas of the city that may not have enough restaurants,” said Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel Andrew Worseck.

At Clark and Monroe during the lunch hour Wednesday, food truck customers seemed split on whether parking restrictions are unfair. But the owner of the Hot Dog Fiend told FOX 32 that the city's rules are threatening the future of her business and others.

FOX 32: Is the city too tough on you guys?

“I think so, I think the city, you know, they're taking our money for licensing, and they're just shrinking our parking and making it much harder for us to operate,” said Cassandra Estes of Hot Dog Fiend.

Both sides are asking the judge to rule in their favor before a trial. The judge says she'll announce her decision on December 5th.