SPI food truck ordinance enforced despite judge declaring it unconstitutional
In November State District Judge Arturo Cisneros Nelson declared that parts of South Padre Island's 2015 city ordinance limiting food truck permits were in violation of the Texas Constitution.
Nelson ordered the city to stop enforcing the restriction on permits along with the requirements for applicants to get approval from a brick and mortar restaurant.
Following the order, the city filed an appeal specifically looking for what they say is 'much needed clarification on the ordinance and a municipality's authority... under state law' in December.
At that time South Padre Island Mayor Patrick McNulty said in a statement that "no order of any kind was entered granting specific relief, damages or instructions to the city,'' and that the laws would remain in effect.
However, the order specifically stated that the city must stop enforcing the food truck codes.
Managing Attorney at the Institute for Justice and for food truck owners Arif Panju said the city's statement is disingenuous.
"What the city is doing right now is not being candid with the public, and not being really candid with what it's really attempting to do here." Panju said. "Which is continuing to enforce the laws that were declared unconstitutional while at the same time pretending that it's seeking clarification while trying to advance a meritless appeal about whether it's immune from the Texas Constitution."
Panju said that while peak tourist season approaching soon is a concern for food trucks looking to set up early, the city choosing to not follow the judge's order is a bigger issue.
"It should concern everyone in the Rio Grande Valley that South Padre Island is openly flouting a court's authority and the Texas Constitution," Panju said.
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