New Food Truck Regulations Go Into Effect Tomorrow?

Photo by PoPville flickr user HLPinDC

Food Truck Fiesta reports:

Over the past week, District officials have been visiting food trucks and telling them that beginning on Jan 13, 2012, they will be ticketing food trucks that don’t have a line formed in front of them. Specifically, if there is a lapse of more than 15 minutes between customers, the food truck will receive a $1000 fine! UPDATE: I hate to report this, but the news is even worse.. District officials were allowing 15 minutes between customers, but starting tomorrow, they will have no time frame! The fine is also set at $50, but escalates with every violation (so, I’m guessing that’s where the $1000 figure comes from). This means that if MPD rolls up and sees a truck with no line, they are immediately fined $50 and told to pack things up and go home. To add insult to injury, if a truck racks up 17 of these violations in one year, they can have their license revoked.

You can find contact info for your Council Member here.

UPDATE: @mayorvincegray just tweeted:

“No new enforcement actions are planned, @DCDPW and @DCPoliceDept ensure me. New regs are moving forward according to law.”

32 Comment

  • corruption of our city council plan and simple. I am sure the restaurant association gives money to the campaigns and/or gives free meals to the council members. Why else would the council do this?

    The people have voted with their wallets, they want food trucks.

    • Um, because they didn’t. These are regs by the Gray Administration, not a statute passed by the Council.

      • ok then corruption by the mayor’s administration then

        • They appear to be neither laws nor regs. Did you read the update?

          The “new regs” that are moving ahead refers to a reform package thats been bouncing around for a long time. It would put an end to the tension between the restaurants for the food trucks, but would probably increase the costs on food trucks and make restaurants unhappy because they’d still exist.

          • yes i read the update. the “new regs bouncing around for a long time” come from people under the influential of the restaurants. Just b/c the regs will not be enforced today doesnt mean they willnt be tomorrow. This is also the same thing that happened to the unity park food vendors.

    • Man the brigades! We must fight the oppressive hand that would force food trucks to not park in unprofitable locations! Tyrants!

  • how did jim graham vote on this?

  • What qualifies as a line? If a truck is staffed by 2 people and there’s a lull, can one of them just stand outside the truck looking indecisively at the menu until real customers show up?

  • christanel

    This is absolutely ridiculous and blatant discrimination against food trucks if enforced. Does Mayor Gray’s tweet mean that this a new regulation that won’t be enforced until a later date or that this isn’t actually a regulation?

  • Since the Mayor says this isnt happening, my bet is that some restaurant or a group of restaurants has paid a cop to go around making shit up and harassing food trucks to create uncertainty and an unwelcoming environment. If its all propaganda from one, or a small number of “DC officials”, its probably hard to track and to stop.

    Either that, or the food trucks are by accident, or intentionally, stirring up a frenzy by a misunderstanding.

  • I am not one to constantly buy food from food trucks. I used to work right off Farragut North Metro and couldn’t bear the lines or prices. However, the food is almost always on-par and you get what you pay for.

    I am absolutely outraged that this is occurring, however. The owners of food truckers are the same as the owners of the hot dog stands. They work very hard to run a small, if profitable, operation and rely on word of mouth (and Twitter) to make a buck — that’s it. DC is seriously annoying the shit out of me with these ridiculous rules — and why are the fines so high!?

    Absolutely outrageous and hurtful to the community.

  • Lines are worse. If a line forms perpendicular to the truck, it makes a wall that is hard to pass by if you’re a pedestrian. The fine should be for blocking a sidewalk not whether it’s a line or not. This isn’t Russia or China folks where lines really don’t work! 😉

    • Actually lines work great in Russia and worked even better in the Soviet Union. People lined up for hours for spoiled food and mismatched shoes. There was no point in crowding and mobbing like the Chinese do.

  • Food trucks have finally brought tasty lunches to the area around my office (m street just to the east of georgetown bridge), which was formerly sadly bereft of options. Yay food trucks. I will not look kindly upon any politician who hurts the food truck business come election time.

  • I seem to recall that when the food truck mania first started that they were required to have customers before stopping, and not allowed to wait in place for customers, but seems that was never enforced. The concept behind a food truck is that it moves around. That differs from the hot dog stands, but I wonder if these same regulations apply to the vending trucks which have sat on the streets near the MALL for years?

    I am indifferent to the food trucks, as I personally don’t find the benefit of standing in line for service then getting food only marginally better or comparable to what is available in shops or the food courts but with no seating provided.

    • You’re right- the “must have a line rule” has always been around, but most never enforced, unless it’s cap hill folks complaining about an ice cream truck that tarrys longer than they’d like.

      The food trucks fall under same regs as ice cream tucks- they can sell almost anywhere there’s a demand, can stop to serve customers, but can’t take up street parking or block traffic longer than necessary to serve a waiting customer.

      The food stands and hot dog carts (along the mall, downtown, etc) are under differnt regs and they’re only allowed to sell in their permitted space/location, not anywhere they please.

  • High rents and meddling by the city have made it impossible to get a decent quick and inexpensive lunch around Metro Center. Outside of the food trucks, all of the “options” there are mostly crap: mediocre food, ridiculously expensive and extremely unhealthy. If the food trucks go, those jokers won’t be getting my business, either.

    • NEWFLASH: most restaurant food isn’t healthy. And I doubt *most* food truck food is healthy either (Big Cheese anyone?…Wonky Food Truck serves poutine for Christ’s sake). How about packing your own lunch, lazyass? Life existed before food trucks, y’know.

  • Impossible to get a decent meal? That may be a bit much now decent tasting i understand..Restaurants have to pay 3 kinds of insurance and a shit ton of DC and federal taxes while food trucks do not..So if you think they “restaurants” carry more weight they do as they should.If i wanted to get 3k from my brother in law and open a food truck i get what i expect if i mortgage my future for a shot at a restaurant that’s different.

    • Carenwac – perhaps you should do some further investigating about the real costs involved with both. I’ve owned restaurants and own a food truck – both involve different costs and headaches. Neither is cheap to run by any means. I carry the same insurance that restaurants have – plus extremely high auto insurance.

    • And – your nuts to think you can do this for 3K! Try over 100K.

  • Based on some of the emails I’ve seen this week some of my favorite food trucks have been chased by MPD all week. Glad all other crime has been cleaned up!

  • Okay, so if I understand this right: Gray’s admin has passed a law, which goes into effect tomorrow. The law includes the regulations re: enforcement, cited above. The Police Dept plans to begin enforcing these regulations (as outlined in the law).

    Thoughts? And where does the issue of a food truck paying for a meter fit into this? Can they do that? It seems simple but I still feel like I’m not understanding something… shocking, I know, I’m confused by something happening in DC gov’t. 😉

  • Makes perfect sense.

    Now the city should pass a law that makes food trucks and vendors remit a regular 10% sales tax and BID tax as well.

    As a DC resident, I am not sure why I should defend a VA/MD or NYC business (Lobster Truck) that doesn’t pay sales tax (I don’t call a tiny permitting fee a “tax”), doesn’t contribute to BID’s when they create more street trash than any brick and mortar and take their profits back to VA/MD/NY to be taxed there.

    All on top of the fact that none of the 5 trucks I’ve tried were any cheaper than the local brick and mortar.

    The food trucks and vendors are fleecing the city treasury, its citizens and its street so cry me a river.

    • While I don’t agree with the regulation about lines that the Gray Administration wants to pick nits over I do agree with Joker that sales tax needs to be captured from these food trucks.

    • You swayed me. I was strongly in the other camp, but now I agree. I think if we get these guys on a level playing field, then they should be allowed. As of now, the only way to seemingly get money (real estate taxes and other licensing taxes to brick and mortar stores) is to give them tickets.

      • I don’t think that the trucks have any issues with paying their fair share of taxes – state or otherwise. They are just paying what the city is telling them to pay.

  • My big objection is having the police department involved in this. Also, I don’t think it is unreasonable to say you can’t linger for hours with no customers but to have to be flagged over like a cab in order to stop is a bit ridiculous.

    Can someone also put some meat on this notion that they are not paying sales tax? I agree that an out of town business should not be able to operate in DC under different rules than an in-town business but I am not sure of the source of these rumors.

  • So, let me get this straight, if I have a line of people at my car waiting to buy food I can park anywhere in the city without having to pay a meter?

  • Food trucks, like ice cream vendors or hot dog vendors, pay a quarterly sale tax of XXXX… a fixed amount…that is not based on actual sales so the city is losing a lot of venue. Also this system is not audit-able.

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