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Tag Archive | "food trucks"

Peace At Last: Food Truck Regulations Passed


From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]borderstan.com.

"Food Truck"

The Fojol Bros. food truck. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Just a couple of weeks after the DC Council rejected proposed regulations on the food truck industry, the subject is back in the news. The Council met yesterday to approve a number of regulations that had been amended since last being rejected.

After dragging on for four years, these new regulations may finally put this ongoing debate to an end.

What Was Approved

  • As Borderstan noted when these regulations were last up for approval, one proposal was to create “mobile roadway vending zones.” These zones would be handed out to various food trucks through a lottery process on a monthly basis and would apply to the most popular and busy areas around the city.
  • These zones and this lottery process were approved, but instead of requiring food trucks without access to the zoned areas to stay 500 feet away, they must now stay only 200 feet away.
  • Another proposal was that food trucks outside the zones would only be able to set up at sidewalks with at least 10 feet of unobstructed space. The amount of space has now been dropped to just six feet of unobstructed space, which is the same regulation for outdoor restaurants and cafes.
  • Councilmember Tommy Wells also added an amendment clarifying that “parking meters and similar small structures are not considered obstructions.”
  • Another amendment from Councilmember Wells reduced a fine for expired parking meters from $2,000 to $50, which is the same amount that other street vendors face. That fine is doubled for repeat offenses.

Moving Forward

The passing of these amendments was considered a positive thing by both the DC Food Truck Association and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington. Neither side won on every count, but neither did they lose, and so a compromise seemed the best that either organization was going to come away with. At least now both groups will be able to take in the new regulations and move forward.

All that is left is for Mayor Gray to put his signature on these new regulations. Given the long history of this story, let’s all keep our fingers crossed that nothing happens between now and then (though seriously, nothing should happen between now and then).

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Food Truck Regulation Drama Continues


From Mathew Harkins. Email him at mharkins[AT]borderstan.com.

"Food truck"

Food trucks  drama. (Luis Gomez Photos)

The rest of the country may think that the big news in Washington recently has to do with Benghazi or the IRS scandal, but we’re all too well aware here that all politics are local.

And so, in one of the longest running debates going on here in DC, this past Friday the DC Council’s Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs Committee voted to reject proposed regulations on the food truck industry.

The legislation, which had been proposed by the Gray administration, sought to control the thriving industry by designating which food trucks would be allowed to operate in certain zones and where those blocked from those zones would be allowed to operate.

Those zones, offering more than 150 spots located in the most financially advantageous areas, would be doled out by lottery every month. As for operating outside of those zones, food trucks would need to stay at least 500 feet away and would only be allowed in locations where there is at least 10 feet of unobstructed sidewalk.

How Much Regulation Is Enough?

The DC Food Truck Association stated concerns that the new rules were not only too vague but that they also worried about the lottery process, saying that too much was being left to the discretion of government agencies. At the same time, the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington advocated on behalf of these regulations in the name of fairness as restaurants operate under a number of pre-existing rules and regulations.

After voting to reject the regulations as proposed, committee Chairman Vincent Orange introduced emergency legislation, approved yesterday, that will allow the committee to amend the submitted regulations instead of being restrained to simply voting for, against, or no action. The idea here is that the regulations are not completely off base and some modifications might make them more agreeable to the committee.

This debate over regulations has been going on for years now and gaining more attention as the food trucks in DC have become more prevalent. This vote is simply the most recent development in a drawn out campaign between two opposing sides. Food truck owners, restaurant owners and hungry customers will surely be paying close attention when the vote to allow the committee to amend the regulations comes up. Stay tuned.

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Saturday: Food Trucks at Harrison Recreation Center


"Harrison"

Harrison Recreation Center and Field are on the 1300 block of V Street NW. (Luis Gomez Photos)

Beginning this Saturday, April 20, food trucks will be at the Harrison Recreation Center on the 1300 block of V Street NW. As the Little League season starts, the food trucks will be outside the playing field from 11 am to 1 pm in a rotation schedule, according to a message on the U Street News listserv.

This week’s trucks are The Big Cheese and Captain Cookie. Next week is Rolling Ficelle and Goodies Frozen Custard. Come out enjoy the game and grab a bite.

Last year The Friends of Harrison Recreation Center held a meeting to get input from the community about renovations for the center and playing field.

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Chick-fil-A: “No #hatechicken,” in DC says Gray, HRC


From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

Back to food trucks (did we ever really leave?). Amidst a national controversy over Chick-fil-A’s public opposition to same-sex marriage, last week neighborhood-based Human Rights Campaign (HRC) staged a protest at the fast food restaurant’s food truck downtown.

"Chicken"

How do you feel about eating at Chick-fil-A? (Courtesy of Carly & Art’s Photostream on Flickr)

Protesters held signs that informed diners their lunch money would be going to the Wingate Foundtion, the charitable wing of Chick-fil-A. (See Playing Chicken with Politics and Food.)

You can’t say they weren’t warned. A few months back, there was something of a kerfuffle surrounding the debut of a Chick-fil-A food truck in the District because of their connections to ultra-conservative charities. And DC, particularly Borderstan, is a pretty liberal place. (See Playing Chicken with Politics and Food.)

Outrage to the chain’s stance on gay marriage goes far beyond DC, with mayors in Boston and Chicago publicly saying they don’t welcome Chick-fil-A in their cities (even though they cannot legally stop them from expanding there). Late Friday afternoon, even Mayor Gray got in on the action, tweeting that he “would not support #hatechicken.”

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Food Trucks One Step Closer to Paying 10% Sales Tax


From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

As summer heats up and DC’s food trucks ready themselves for another lucrative warm season, brick-and-mortar restaurants in the District also have something to celebrate.

DC, food, trucks, Borderstan, Logan, Circle, Luis, Gomez, Photos

The fojol bros. food truck. (Borderstan file photo)

DCist reported that last week, a measure levying taxes on food truck sales passed the City Council. This tax disparity was a major thorn in the side of traditional restaurants, who saw their mobile counterparts as having an unfair advantage.

The 10% sales tax (same as what you pay in a restaurant) would replace the current $1,500 annual fee street vendors pay. According to District’s chief financial officer, the city’s 1,200 food trucks and mobile vendors are expected to contribute more than $1.2 million in taxes to the city each year.

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Playing Chicken with Politics and Food


By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and let her know your news on Twitter @MichLancaster. Email her at michellel[AT]borderstan.com.

Chick-fil-A has a cult following among some in DC. It’s hard to tell if that obsessive love is fueled by peanut oil, the thin and crispy layer of batter on the nuggets or the relative scarcity of Chick-fil-A options in the DC metro area. So it’s not surprising that news of a food truck operated by the restaurant chain sparked a bit of a public stir. What is surprising, at least to DCist, was some vitriol directed towards their coverage of the Chick-fil-A truck.

"Borderstan"

Yes, some chickens still live outdoors. (Courtesy of Carly & Art’s Photostream on Flickr)

It’s not the first time that the chain has found itself in the center of controversy. It’s no secret that the chain has religious roots, as all restaurants are closed on Sunday at the behest of the founder. Those roots have become more visible of late due to the actions of WinShape Foundation, the founder’s charitable organization.

The foundation promotes Christian values, including a very traditional (read: no gays allowed) definition of marriage. To that end, the Foundation has given more than $3 million to anti-gay groups since 2003. The Southern Poverty Law Center has designated at least one of these groups as a hate group.

The problem for DCist, as outlined by Dean Gold (who owns Dino in Cleveland Park) is that DCist said chicken lovers ‘rejoiced’ at the chain’s food truck, or indicated they should. Gold took umbrage at  ‘rejoicing’ the arrival of a corporation that has an anti-gay position as well as their “corporate crap from tortured chickens.”

In tweets and then a piece in the Washington City Paper, he and other food heavies in the area argued, essentially, that if you continue to order that No. 5 meal, you are funding and endorsing an anti-gay agenda.

DCist, in a follow-up piece, pondered if there was a way to separate the politics from the food. But it should be noted that the WinShape Foundation is funded by the corporate entity, and at least some of that funding comes from revenues at restaurants. In other words, a portion of the cash you hand over for waffle fries likely ends up, albeit in a small percentage, funding anti-gay groups.

So, if you are what you eat, where does that leave a supporter of gay rights who also happens to have a particular weakness for the eight piece nuggets with Chick-fil-A sauce? Will you order from the truck and up your donations to the Human Rights Campaign in a fit of greasy guilt? Or are certain politics so abhorrent to consumers that a boycott is the only moral, ethical thing to do?

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DC Council Moves Bill Forward on Food Truck Regulation


From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden[AT]borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

DC, food, trucks, Borderstan, Logan, Circle, Luis, Gomez, Photos

Fojol Brothers food truck. (Borderstan file photo)

In the ongoing saga of DC’s efforts to regulate its plethora of new food trucks, DCist reports that the City Council has begun marking up legislation requiring these mobile vendors to charge sales tax. (See Borderstan’s previous coverage on the issue, links at bottom of story.)

The bill, which was introduced by Councilmember Jack Evans (D-Ward 2) last year, would make food trucks charge 10 percent sales tax, the same rate paid by regular, non-moving restaurants. This is a victory for brick-and-mortar restaurants, who have become increasingly frustrated by what they see as an unfair playing field. Currently, mobile vendors pay a flat annual tax.

“This is not a fair system, and the evolution of the mobile vendor market requires a modernization of our tax laws,” Evans stated in a release.

Washington Blade columnist Mark Lee wrote a piece on February 28 in support of the proposal: “Fairness for all businesses should begin with food trucks paying the same sales tax rate as the rest of their hospitality and food service colleagues. The D.C. Council should act to establish a level playing field by approving this legislation.”

Food truck vendors have largely voiced opposition to this new provision, a departure from their earlier support for DC’s proposed regulations on mobile food vendors. One food truck advocate (and vendor) pointed out that paying equal taxes should go with equal treatment. Food truck operators have complained of police harassment, among other obstacles traditional restaurants don’t have to face.

The bill appeals to many in the District because of the revenue it would generate. If passed, the bill would take effect this October.

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Gray’s Proposed Regs Would Ease Street Parking for Food Trucks


DC food trucks, Borderstan, Logan Circle, Luis Gomez Photos

Food trucks are increasingly popular in downtown DC. (Luis Gomez Photos)

From Alden Leonard. Contact him at alden@borderstan.com and follow him @aldenleonard on Twitter.

The Examiner and DCist reported on Friday that Mayor Vincent Gray has announced intentions to revise D.C.’s street vending rules. Of note, his proposal would clarify guidelines for food trucks, whose popularity and ubiquity make them primed for regulation.

Gray’s proposal would allow food trucks to remain in legal parking spaces so long as the truck’s driver observes time limits and, of course, pays the meter. This rule does not include dessert vendors, who would be required to keep moving if they go 10 minutes without customers (this caveat is intended to prevent ice cream trucks from exploiting the new food truck rules).

Representatives of the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington (RAMW) gave Gray’s proposals a lukewarm reception, re-iterating that the city’s approval process for food trucks is too quick and easy compared to the requirements for establishing a new restaurant. This disparity creates unfair competition for established restaurants, the RAMW claims.

In a statement, the Mayor said the new rules would be a triumph for D.C.’s consumers and potential business owners. The D.C. Council will ultimately have to approve the proposed changes.

“Street vending, food trucks and farmers’ markets are important components in increasing the District’s quality of life for residents, workers and visitors, and my new regulations are designed to strike a careful balance between encouraging business innovation and respecting our laws as well as brick-and-mortar businesses that have long played according to the rules,” said Mayor Gray. “These proposed regulations eliminate outdated requirements, make it easier for the smallest of entrepreneurs to set up a business here and expand the food options available to consumers.”

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SYMHM: Who Foods Edition


Whole Foods Market, Logan Circle, Borderstan

Tuesday night at “Who” Foods Market on the 1400 block of P Street NW. (Matty Rhoades)

By Michelle Lancaster. You can follow her and  tell her your news on Twitter @MichLancaster.

Anderson Cooper at Logan Circle Vida

How did I not know about this? Washington Examiner tells me, long after the spotting, that Anderson Cooper was working out with a male friend at the Logan Circle Vida Metropole. Loganites, is he still at Vida this week? TAKE SOME PICTURES!

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SYMHM: Hump Day Edition


News from Dupont-Logan-U Street (mostly).

From Michelle Lancaster. (So, what did I miss? Talk at me on Twitter @michlancaster.)

Lululemon Murder and Assault Investigation Continues

Investigators were back inside the Bethesda store where two female employees were viciously attacked and beaten, one to death. MyFOX reports that tips are coming in from the community and progress is being made in the investigation. Lululemon has offered a $125,000 reward for information in the case.

Sulaimon Brown, Tried for Attempted Murder?

The news is just not improving for Brown and by association, Mayor Vincent Gray, for whom he had recently worked. WUSA has obtained a report authorized by the Gray transition team detailing the information that Brown had once been tried for attempted murder. The amended due diligence report should have prevented Brown from obtaining a city job, but Gray associates say the firm failed to pick up this information.

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