Washington, DC: Save DC’s Food Trucks!

Save DC Food Trucks! on Flickr.

By Author | Jacques of All Trades

Save DC Food Trucks! on Flickr.
Save DC Food Trucks! on Flickr.

This month, the DC Council will review and vote on proposed regulations for food trucks in DC. The regulations, as written, will severely reduce the mobility and viability of food trucks in the District, and will likely greatly diminish the quantity and quality of what food trucks are able to offer. While there is a need to address some issues (e.g., trash), the current draft regulations create some severe and unnecessary restrictions on where and how trucks can operate.

Various stakeholders are arguing about what the regulations actually do or do not entail, but regardless of exactly how many trucks are allowed in each “zone,” the mobile roadway vendor zones, which will be allocated monthly via lottery, will:

a) eliminate some of the spontaneity and flexibility of food trucks,

b) limit their ability to move if they aren’t getting customers where they are, and
c) limit the choices available for somebody who works on a single downtown block. The regulations specify that zones may be as small as two trucks, and while they don’t give a maximum, the range seems smaller than what is currently available at many spots (like Union Station, L’Enfant Plaza, or Metro Center)

I might be thrilled by Korean tacos (or brisket sandwiches, or funnel cake) when they only show up once in a while, but if at the beginning of a month, a certain truck finds out that they only received 14, or 18 slots for the month, and that they’ll have to find space outside of the zones for the other days, it’s not farfetched that many of these trucks will consider getting out of what is already a low-margin business.  Not only that, but trucks like Curbside Cupcakes, which typically hits 8-12 locations a day with it’s frosted goodies, will be stripped of many of the spots where they currently spend 30-60 minutes.

Over the last few years, an explosion of food trucks have brought great joy to office workers, festival goers, college students, and more in the District, and the trucks themselves have served as launching pads for at least a half-dozen restaurants in DC.  They increase the vibrancy and variety of downtime lunchtime, farmers markets, and more, and tt would be a shame to have unnecessary bureaucracy shut down this largely-homegrown small business engine.

See http://www.savedcfoodtrucks.org for more details!