Washington, DC: D.C. Council Empowers Itself to Tweak Food Truck Regulations That Food Trucks Don’t Like

photo by Jacques Arsenault

By Benjamin Freed  |  DCist.com

photo by Jacques Arsenault
photo by Jacques Arsenault

The D.C. Council passed most of the proposed regulations on the city’s food trucks today, but not all of them. Following up last week’s session by the Committee on Business, Regulatory, and Consumer Affairs, the full Council approved the “non-controversial” portions of the regulations and gave itself the power to tweak the remaining regulations around which the big fight between the food truck industry and city officials revolves.

Still, today’s vote is momentous. The rules adopted today are the first modifications to the city’s regulatory regime over mobile vending in three decades, and puts food trucks in a category by themselves. (Previously, they were classified as ice cream trucks a designation that, among other stipulations, technically prohibits them from parking in locations where a line isn’t already formed.)

But the passages adopted today deal mostly with food preparation, health requirements, the licensing process, and labor standards. They also separate out the stationary roadside and sidewalk vendors that sell souvenirs and cheap snacks along the National Mall.

What remains to be settled, though, are the proposed regulations that have had the food truck industry in a political frenzy for the past few months. By passing a separate amendment empowering it to do so, the Council will now address the proposals that call for the creation of designated mobile vending zones, a lottery to determine where trucks may park, and a 500-foot radius around the designated zones. (Without such a measure, the Council would only have been allowed to approve or reject the regulations outright.)

The Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington has been lobbying for several months against those elements, and at a marathon hearing last month, won over the members of the Business, Regulatory, and Consumer Affairs Committee. Councilmember Vincent Orange (D-At Large), who chairs that panel, said today that he aims to resolve the remaining matters by the time the Council lets out for its summer recess in July.