- Kabul airport hit by suicide bomber who targeted NATO gate
- European probe on course for a landing on a comet
- New budget accord saves $23 billion — after $65 billion spending spree
- Congress seeks ban on in-flight calls
- Michelle Malkin’s Twitchy site sold to owners of Townhall, HotAir: report
- GM’s Barra to be first woman to run top American carmaker
- China: Poisonous smog is a military asset, if you think about it
- Texas woman admits to sending ricin to Obama
- Ron Paul on son Rand: ‘I think he probably will’ run for president
- Cold War heats up again in the Arctic: Russian airfield reactivated after 20 years
Food fight heats up along D.C.’s streets
City rules limiting burgeoning trade in curbside trucks go before council
The long-simmering battle between traditional brick-and-mortar restaurants and the insurgent food truck industry is expected to come to a head Friday during a regulatory hearing before a D.C. Council committee.
A renaissance of mobile kitchens serving made-to-order meals has spread across the country, and the District recently has been caught up in the wave. But for every hungry customer waiting on line for a hot slice of pizza or a spicy chicken curry, a complaint has been raised by the established restaurants that feel threatened and argue that the food trucks are using public space for private gain.
D.C. Council member Vincent B. Orange, at-large Democrat and chairman of the Committee on Business, Consumer and Regulatory Affairs that will consider the new regulations, said he wasn’t surprised at the debate’s escalation. He said he’s looking to perhaps introduce emergency legislation this summer to allow the council to modify the regulations instead of just casting an up-or-down vote.
“We either approve the proposed regulations as is, or reject them,” Mr. Orange said. “It would be great if the council could modify them and bring about a nice compromise. We don’t want oversaturation, but we do want people to have a choice in what they desire for lunch. And at the same time we want the brick-and-mortar restaurants to do well.”
While Mr. Orange talked of compromise, the debate on the streets between food trucks and restaurants has grown increasingly contentious as three previous versions of the regulations have been proposed and abandoned.
Doug Povich, chairman of the Food Truck Association of Metropolitan Washington, said this week that he and his fellow food truck owners “understand the need for managing what’s going on in public spaces.”
“The problem,” the co-owner of Red Hook Lobster Pound said,” is the city’s created a one-size-fits-all approach to the entire city.”
Among the proposed regulations are that truck owners enter a monthly lottery for a paid parking spot in one of the city’s designated “mobile roadway vending” locations. Food trucks that do not win a spot would not be allowed to park within 500 feet of the assigned spaces and must park on a stretch of sidewalk that is at least 10 feet long.
In an email to members last week, the Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington applauded the proposed regulations as a “framework to make smart decisions about mobile vending in the District of Columbia.”
The restaurant association, which represents several hundred D.C.-area restaurants, stated that it felt no ill will toward food trucks. But in a stinging rebuke, the association dismissed criticisms of the regulations leveled by food truck owners as “misleading” and “patently false.” It called the truck owners’ criticism “merely the contentions of people who apparently are not happy playing by any rules except for the ones they make for themselves.”
Mr. Orange said nearly 70 people are signed up to testify at Friday’s hearing. One of them is Matt Geller, founder and CEO of the Southern California Food Vendors Association. Mr. Geller has been helping to organize food truck associations across the country, including the D.C. association, since he founded the Southern California group in January 2010. He suggested a day-to-day parking allocation as a possible way for food trucks and the city to meet in the middle.
“I think the city has to be sensitive to the particular business model of these food trucks,” Mr. Geller said. “The model is to keep the brand fresh. Make sure people are excited to see you. I always say, restaurants have customers, food trucks have followers.”
One area that’s made recent changes to its food truck policies — and might see more business if the District’s regulations are approved — is Arlington County.
Late last month, the County Board doubled the one-hour time that food trucks are allowed to park and serve customers.
Despite there never being enough parking, “that’s the nature of our urban setting that we have,” said J. Walter Tejada, chairman of the Arlington County Board.
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
Meredith Somers is a Metro reporter for The Washington Times. She can be reached at email@example.com.
- Maryland makes 'top tier' for its control of guns
- Snow prompts closures in D.C. area, slippery conditions remain
- Troops forced to rely on welfare, holiday charity
- Operation Homefront gives meals to military
- Early snowfall changes to sleet in D.C. area
Latest Blog Entries
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- New budget accord saves $23B -- after $65B spending spree
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- Chinese man fed up with his girlfriend's shopping jumps to his death
- Obama's antics at Nelson Mandela tribute: Jovial conversation, handshake with Raul Castro
- EDITORIAL: The shake that shook the world
- Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu backs out of Nelson Mandela funeral
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
- GOV'T MOTORS: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $15 billion loss for taxpayers
- Obama shakes hands with Cuba's Raul Castro at Nelson Mandela's funeral
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Helping the YOUniverse conspire on your behalf.
A column dedicated to discussing politics, national security, civil liberties, and education.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
The “Silver Tsunami” created by aging Baby Boomers is hitting America. Let’s explore how we adjust to it, enjoy it and defy negative expectations about age.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow