Turf War Heats Up Over D.C. Food Trucks

Sweetbites and DC Slices Trucks [Photo: Mr. T in DC] - Raphael Brion

By NACSOnline.com

Sweetbites and DC Slices Trucks - Photo: Mr. T in DC

Restaurants are officially miffed that food trucks are parking in front of their establishments and taking away customers.

WASHINGTON – D.C. restaurant owners and food truck vendors are trying to agree on where and how the trucks should operate and be regulated, reports The Washington Examiner.

Following a City Council meeting on Wednesday, the two groups remain deadlocked, even with an offer by the vendors this week to be taxed the same as a brick-and-mortar establishment. On the table was a bill that would apply a 10 percent restaurant tax to the trucks. Mobile food trucks currently pay the District a $1,500 annual fee instead of a tax.

“We believe your proposal to have all city vendors collecting sales tax from customers has merit as a fair and equitable means by which to increase revenue for the city,” Kristi Whitfield, director of the D.C. Food Truck Association, told the council. The newspaper adds that the support comes with a caveat: “If you’re going to tax street vendors like storefront businesses, then treat vendors like businesses consistently in the regulations,” she added.

“The real issue is location, location, location,” Andrew Kline, the attorney for the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington, told the newspaper, adding, “Ideally what happens is the city specifies locations where [the trucks] can operate.”

Food trucks currently operate under the same District regulations established for ice cream trucks, which can only stop if they’re hailed and must leave once the line dissolves. Whitfield told the council that a change in the taxes should also come with a change that allows food trucks to remain parked “regardless of whether or not there is a line,” writes the newspaper.

Ward 2 Councilman Jack wants this issue resolved quickly —  and with good reason since the tourist season in Washington has officially commenced. “I want this done within weeks, not months,” he told the newspaper.