It seems Washington DC, home of the new legendary five-star dining experience on wheels, Pepe is falling under some serious food truck scrutiny regarding the city’s latest round of proposed vending regulations. According to the Washington Post, the DC Food Trucks Association has determined the rules are too vague and that they give government agencies too much authority over the future of street vending in Washington.
“The proposed regulations give DDOT sweeping new powers to determine where food trucks can and cannot be,” Che Ruddell-Tabisola, executive director of the food truck association, told the Post.
“The rules are vague, they’re unreasonable and an unbalanced effort by regulators who do not understand how food trucks operate, but yet they want to control it,” the executive director said. “However, we can’t evaluate policy based on intentions. You have to judge policy based on writing, and based on that, these proposed regulations have one ultimate outcome: It’s harming food trucks and our customers by making it harder for trucks to go where the customers are.”
Enraged food truck owners appeared at a town meeting last Monday to get some answers from the District Department of Transportation (DDOT) about their proposed regulations. DDOT intends to establish regulations that specify locations and length of time food trucks may serve from throughout the year. The agency’s Mobile Roadway Vending prograom will allow at least three trucks to vend for four hours, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., on weekdays, but food truck owners want to know how DDOT will manage and enforce these rules.
Food truck operators also wanted more definition on a proposed rule that requires at least 10 feet of “unobstructed sidewalk” space next to a metered parking spot in the Central Business District in order to vend there.
The DC Food Trucks Association calls the proposal, “unreasonable.”
“Mayor [Vincent] Gray is proposing to limit the number of food trucks where they’re most popular and intentionally eliminate food trucks from large swaths of downtown,” executive director Ruddell-Tabisola told the Post. “District residents and workers are the losers under this proposal because it only results in fewer choices at lunchtime and less competition for their businesses.”
“The proposed language to ban vending wherever there’s less than 10 feet of unobstructed sidewalk is vague,” the executive director continued. “It’s open to multiple interpretations, and only a limited number of food trucks would be allowed to serve lunch in some of the most popular locations.”
Overall, the executive director said, “we’re just seeking fair and reasonable rules that balance the need of the District while preserving consumer choices.”
DDOT claims it plans to work with vendors on a number of revisions to the regulations, but its patience is thin. “I don’t mean to be harsh, but as the government, it is not our requirement that we provide a safe spot for you all to make a living every single day, an agency representative said. “That’s just not what we’re doing. We’re trying to balance competing needs.”