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