On June 18th, 2013, the District of Columbia Council voted unanimously in favor of a set of regulations that outline how and where food trucks are allowed to operate within the city proper, signaling what is likely to be the end of a mercurial four-year debate over the legality of street-operated food truck vendors. According to media sources, the current provisions seem to satisfy the demands of both bricks-and-mortar restaurant owners and food truck operators, who have been in fierce competition with one another over the district’s bustling and hungry clientele. Though certain non-controversial aspects of the legislation had been passed by the council as early as June 5th, several key changes to the mobile vending rules were introduced through the amendments passed on the 18th.
The first of these changes is a reduction of the buffer zone around city-designated “mobile roadway vending zones” from the previously proposed 500 feet to 200 feet. This amendment eases the restrictions placed upon food truck vendors who are not able to acquire vending zone permits, which are doled to applicants monthly on a lottery basis, allowing them to sell their products in closer proximity to the high-traffic vending zones than previously allotted.
The second amendment allows food trucks outside of the vending zones to park in spaces with a minimum of six feet of unobstructed sidewalk space as opposed to the ten feet-requirement what was originally proposed. The amendment also clarifies that parking meters are not considered to be obstructions. Under this change in the legislation, food trucks are given slightly more freedom in terms of where they can park in the city, allowing them to sell in a greater range of locations and alleviating some owners’ fears of being blocked entirely from much of the downtown area. Lastly, a third amendment reduces the fine for expired parking meters from $2000 to $50, though the fee will double for repeat offenders.
While not quite the “status-quo” proposal that many food truck vendors lauded and not quite the crackdown that restaurateurs anticipated, the regulations nevertheless appears to settle the ongoing conflict between the mobile and immobile food vendors. The finalized version of these regulations currently awaits the signature of Mayor Vincent Gray, who is reviewing the revisions.
For more information about the regulations, please contact Rosemarie Salguero at email@example.com or Andre Barlow at firstname.lastname@example.org.