City sued over food truck sales in Old Market

(WOWT)
Published: May. 13, 2016 at 9:17 PM CDT
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A lawsuit has been filed against the city of Omaha. Last year, a similar suit led to new ordinances for food trucks. Now there's a push for another change.

"I looked up the ordinance three years ago and I asked the police to start enforcing it." says Michael Henery, owner of Michael's Cantina at the Market. He says they haven't, even though the ordinance clearly states it's unlawful for someone to sell from a food truck longer than 30 minutes. Henery says they're posting up for hours in the Old Market.

"It's an archaic law that goes back to the ding-ding ice cream trucks of the 1960s," says Kelly Keegan of the Chicago Dawg House. He is also president of the new Food Truck Association and admits it's illegal to park these trucks for long periods, but says change is coming. "We're working with the city, iit's slow to get things moving, but it's on the table. We're waiting to hear back from the city."

In the meantime, Henery is taking action, suing the city not only to get the trucks away from his business, but to repay him for the 2.5 percent food tax that food trucks have avoided. That's money that ends up on your restaurant tab, but not at the trucks.

Keegan says he's glad to pay the tax for his food truck business. "I honestly don't think that someone's going to walk down to the Old Market and say we're going to go eat dinner and say, oh let's get a hot dog. It's two different crowds."

He doesn't see why the trucks and the restaurants have to be in competition. As for Henery, he thinks the future of the Old Market could be at stake in this legal battle. If this continues, what might the Old Market look like 30, 40 years from now? "Food trucks," says Henery. "Actually, they'll be parked everywhere if they let it keep going."

WOWT 6 News spoke with Mayor Stothert on Friday. She said she hasn't seen this lawsuit. Her office says the paperwork filed Thursday has yet to be served to the city.