New Laws Would Limit Food Trucks in D.C.

Owners say proposed laws would make food trucks illegal in most of D.C.

The food truck fad shows no indication of slowing down any time soon. Chefs and eaters love them as much as ever, though not all brick-and-mortar stores have much love for their more mobile competitors. But new legislation has been proposed in Washington D.C. that would dramatically restrict the trucks' movements, and some owners say the new laws would effectively make food trucks illegal in most of the city.  

According to In the Capital, the new laws proposed by Mayor Vincent Gray would create new sidewalk vending spots called Mobile Roadway Vending locations. The right to park at one of those spaces and sell food would be given to licensed food truck operators via a random lottery. Trucks that don't win the lottery wouldn't be allowed anywhere near those spaces.

"Other food trucks would be banned from serving within 500 feet of these lottery-assigned spaces, severely limiting food truck operations to only a few every few blocks," wrote In the Capital's Carl Pierre.

Additionally, the trucks would be obligated to seek out and research potential vending locations that fit the District Department of Transportation's criteria for vending sites, then apply for permits to park at them.

The DDOT says that is designed to make the food trucks research site selection the way brick-and-mortar shops have to. “…this encourages vending entrepreneurs to do their own due diligence on areas they think would be successful vending locations; this is how bricks & mortar businesses operate when choosing locations to lease.”

But Doug Povich, chairman of the Board of Directors of the Food Truck Association, said the needless bureaucracy is designed to restrict competition with brick-and-mortar restaurants.

"The proposed parking restrictions have little to do with protecting public health and safety, and everything to do with restricting competition and consumer choice," he said.

Comments on the new laws are being accepted until April 8.

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