Up In Arms! DC Mayor Proposes New Food Truck Regulations

Mayor of DC, Vincent Gray has trained his eye on new food truck regulations that many food truck owners fear will be severely disadvantageous to them. The Food Truck Association has even gone so far as to say if the regulations are approved, it would drive them out of business.

According to the Mayor, the new regulations are focused on the more important aspect of public safety, not economics. However, food trucks in the DC area have been doing the city a big favor by offering locals and visitors a different slant on street food, not to mention the number of jobs the food trucks have been able to generate. In addition, the food trucks have aided the city in creating a more colorful ambiance for the city streets by becoming a new attraction. People on the go appreciate the fact that you can easily buy your food while touring or shopping – and many of the food choices are amazingly delicious.

Thus, food truck owners are begging the question, “Why try to fix something that doesn’t need fixing?” For some, the move of the mayor could be politically-motivated or part of the ingenious work of influential restaurant lobbyists.

The proposed regulations include granting sweeping powers to the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) to decide where food trucks can park and sell. There will also be a limit to the number of sites for food trucks which would increase the competition among food truck owners if not drive some of them out of business. The DDOT will also set up a Mobile Roadway Vending Association that will monitor the locations for food trucks and even disallow food trucks to sell across each other.  Many of the proposed locations will take the food trucks out of the streets where there are brick and mortar restaurants and high foot traffic streets like 21st and Virginia.

Finally, another proposed regulation is sketchy in that it disallows food trucks to sell in a section of a street that has less than 10 feet of “unobstructed sidewalk.” Unfortunately, the proposed rule does not specify what qualifies as an obstruction so it could be a phone booth, fire hydrant, and even a sidewalk street sign.

The plan of the Food Truck Association is to file a counter proposal to address the concerns of the mayor’s office while allowing them to continue to do business.

Oakland Approves New Regulations For Food Trucks

The Oakland City Council recently approved their pilot program for clusters of food trucks within the city. This is an effort to control the surge of food trucks in the city without dampening the enthusiasm and entrepreneurship of the residents of Oakland.

To be called “food pods,” the City Council is allowing 4 districts in Oakland’s 8 districts to host these food trucks. There should be a minimum of 2 food trucks per pod in an open space, commercial, or industrial zone. However the Council also reiterated that the new regulations would be a trial and can be amended from time to time.

Since Oakland has always been in the forefront of the food business and one of the first cities to allow permits for food truck businesses, many of the members of the City Council were for promoting new food businesses. Not all though were in favor of food trucks in their districts because of the potential street and foot traffic it might generate. The food pods will also be allowed to operate at night but not in areas where it would compete with restaurants. Furthermore, business owners in the 4 selected districts will be allowed to give their input about the food pods which will be taken into consideration when approving new food truck licenses and permits.

The new regulations also include scheduling of food pods wherein an organizer must apply for a special business permit and the permit will only be given for one day a week. Furthermore, an organizer can only apply for 40 food pod dates in a year. In a nutshell, the City Council will not allow any permanent food pods.

According to the spokesman for the City Council, the new regulations will be re-assessed in 2013 and made permanent after the trial run. The plan is to come up with one comprehensive law on food trucks instead of a mish-mash of different regulations that were enforced in the past years