Young and Hungry

Food Truck Rules Pass D.C. Council

The heated four-year debate over food truck regulations appears to be finally coming to a close: The D.C. Council voted this afternoon to approve final amendments to the mobile vending rules.

The Council made a few notable changes. It reduced the buffer area around so-called "mobile roadway vending zones" with designated spots for food trucks from the proposed 500 feet to 200 feet. That means that if a food truck doesn't get a zoned spot through the city's lottery system, it has to stay at least 200 feet away from the zones. Food trucks outside the zones will have to park in spaces with a minimum of six feet of unobstructed sidewalk, rather than the ten feet initially proposed. (Outdoor restaurant cafes must also have a minimum of six feet of unobstructed sidewalk, so that's a similar rule.) Amendments clarified that parking meters are not considered obstructions. Another amendment reduced the fines that food trucks pay for expired parking meters from $2,000 to $50, which is what other mobile vendors pay for similar infractions. The fee doubles for repeat offenses.

Now, all that's needed is Mayor Vince Gray's signature. His spokesman Pedro Ribeiro says the mayor's office is reviewing the amendments and changes to the regulations.

Brick-and-mortar restaurants and food truckers alike sounded ready to move on to implementation. "I do believe we still have members who are impacted negatively," says Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington President Kathy Hollinger. "We worry about a lot still, but we think that it is still in everyone's interest that we get these passed, and we could live with these amendments."

As for the food truckers' reaction? "I think it's a fair compromise," says Food Truck Association Metropolitan Washington Political Director Che Ruddell-Tabisola, who also co-owns the BBQ Bus. "I'm looking forward to getting back to selling barbecue sandwiches."

Additional reporting by Ally Mutnick

Photo by Darrow Montgomery

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