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