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Discussions Ongoing about Emergency Legislation To Put a Moratorium on Food Trucks

by Prince Of Petworth December 6, 2010 at 2:32 pm 51 Comments

Photo by PoPville flickr user Mr. T in DC

Back in August we learned that there were some forces who were opposed to the emergence of the DC food truck scene. It looks like even more forces are at work and gaining momentum. And now I’m hearing the emerging food truck scene could be in big big trouble.

From a number sources I’ve been hearing that emergency legislation is being discussed to put a moratorium on food trucks. I spoke to Ward 4 Council Member Muriel Bowser who confirmed that this is a possibility. She also said she opposed the idea of a moratorium. Though she did say in an email that the sales tax situation did need to be worked out. The reason why a moratorium could be a problem, beyond the obvious, is that it is very difficult to overturn. If we are looking for a compromise, perhaps, putting a cap on the number of trucks could be a much smarter move than putting a blanket moratorium on them. Currently there are around 20 food trucks with a few more in the works. If a cap were placed on the number of food trucks in DC what do you think would be a fair number (if any)?

If you don’t want to see a moratorium on food trucks be sure to let your council members know – they can be contacted here. If you live in Ward 4 – Council Member Bowser already opposes the moratorium so be sure to let your at large members know how you feel.

  • Anonymous

    This is what I said back when POP first discussed the topic:

    “What will happen is DC will limit the number of trucks, grandfather in the existing trucks, and you’ll have one or two business enterprises controlling the entire food truck business in the city. It will cease being the little guy and it will just be basically one restaurant group or two with a series of rolling eateries. The little guy always gets fucked in this town.”

    Seems like I was correct.

    • Anonymous

      yeah, you called it. you’re like a some kind of prodigy.

  • Well, I can easily see why 20 food trucks are a threat to not only the restaurant industry and the health of the public, but national security as well. Someone could put a bomb on one of those trucks!

    Like the Bible says, “$h!t rolls uphill towards money.”

  • David


    • Anonymous


  • Mags

    I fail to see how a food truck is at a higher risk for falling short in safety/sanitation/legalities than any brick and mortar restaurant. The city is ripe with filthy take-out joints and obvious drug front restaurants. Maybe city council should focus their “emergency” measures for things like the LEAD IN OUR WATER.

  • Doing nothing is better than doing something. Reforming sales tax is the one thing that should be done, but a moratorium is just wrong.

  • DCblue

    I really encourage everyone to take a brief moment and write their council member an e-mail saying how much you’d like to keep these trucks on the streets. They likely do not see the huge lines in front of them in the summer, and surely haven’t tried any of the wonderful food that comes out of them everyday. They may just think they’re a nuisance taking away money from established strongholds like Subway and Au Bon Pain. Tell them that thousand love these trucks for their food, artistic value, and choice they bring to the often sterile lunch market throughout the city.

  • Steve

    Apparently Councilmember Brown is sponsoring emergency legislation to stop new foods trucks. This would immediately go into effect without any time for public comment.

    • saf

      Which Brown?

  • Foodie Luvah

    This has nothing to do with concerns over sanitation or taxes, and everything to do with trying to snuff out competition.

  • The AMT

    No moratorium, no cap on the number of trucks, period.

    I’m no market fundamentalist, but as long as these businesses are complying with health and safety regulations and paying their sales tax, let the market decide the equilibrium number. Anything else is just giving a windfall to existing businesses.

    • Anon

      That’s part of the issue– they’re somehow *not* paying regular sales taxes. Brick and morta restaurants give up 10% to taxes, but food trucks are a flat tax of $1500/year.

  • Bruce

    I would rather see a moratorium on pricy new restaurants and bars with $12 drinks than reasonably priced food trucks.

    There is no reason that food can not be taxed properly.

  • Rrrrrrrr

    there should be more drug front food trucks and less overpriced food-food trucks; i dislike food trucks and the people that line up for 45 minutes for an 18 dollar lobster roll; food trucks are not reasonably priced and the pizza one serves terrible pizza (the one time i got food from a food truck) only time i saw a cool food truck scene with well priced, good food was in portland, oregon; like most everything else, a dc embraced trend becomes a lame one

    • Anonymous

      Do us all a favor and go jump in the Potomac. My god do you suck.

      • Anononymous


      • Anonymous

        Really? I think overpriced mediocre food trucks are the antithesis of food trucks. Kind of like how an overpriced boutique cupcake is against everything cupcakes originally stood for.

        • Neil

          The lobster truck was a bad example then, because for the amount and quality of lobster you get, it’s clearly not overpriced. What besides my subjective experience tells me it isn’t overpriced? The line. I mean do people not understand anything about markets? If it were really “overpriced,” they wouldn’t have a block long line from the time they arrive at a location until the time they leave.

  • Johnson

    CM Brown owns shares in SweetGreen…

    • pop-up owner

      Is this true?

    • EPF


    • DCster

      Which Brown?

  • MT

    This kind of anti entrepreneurship bullshit is infuriating. Fix the tax situation, but don’t legislate a monopoly.

    • jt$

      Remember when DC gave Comcast a monopoly on bus shelter advertising in exchange for the Smart bike program? It’s pathetic when politicians get outsmarted by business people.

      Cohagen! Give these people air!

      • Anonymous

        cohagan! ha! thanks for making my day.

      • JohnofCharleston

        Clear Channel Outdoor actually, not Comcast.

  • Anonymous

    Maybe we just need the food trucks to spread out to other parts of DC? I’ve never been to a DC food truck because they don’t go out to where I am and I’m certainly not going to take a bus or metro for it.

  • Q-Street

    Just deliver an unmarked box of Banh Mi sandwiches from the Floridian, and a duffle of cupcakes from the cupcake truck to the city council and this problem will disappear.

  • Foodie Luvah

    Why is the DC Chamber of Commerce lobbying against small businesses?

  • Heather

    Does anyone have a draft letter I can use? My brain is melting and I’m having trouble organizing my thoughts on this…

  • Steve

    I just found savedcfoodtrucks.org on google. It has draft letters all set up. Looks like it was to be used for this very issue.

    • Heather


  • Eckington Resident

    I emailed and heard back from Councilman Thomas. He said he “supports food trucks with appropriate regulations”.

    Maybe everyone who hears back from a councilmember can post the responses up here, so everyone can keep track of the #s supporting/opposed.

  • eddy fuentes

    They should just pay the same sales tax that regular restaurants pay.

    Why can’t the stupid DC Council introduce EMERGENCY legislation to do that?

    There is just too much red tape in DC.

  • Scott

    Why do no street vendors pay ANY sales tax? All they pay is $1,500 a year – an amount that hasn’t increased since 1991! That’s nuts. They should be subject to the same tax collection as everyone else.

    And the restaurant lobbyists are simply trying to limit competition. Nothing more, nothing less.

  • intractable

    This is fantastic. We coddle criminal youths and let them out so they can murder people, but we crack down on food trucks. I hate this city’s politics so much.

  • DC Entrepreneur

    Who are these “forces” that are pushing for the moratorium? Don’t just say brick and mortar, or “BIDs.” In order to deal with this, we need to know specifics.

  • briefly

    What’s the racial makeup of food truck owners? Therein probably lies the answer. And the lack of kickbacks and cash support to councilmembers of course.

    • Anonymous

      i pity you.

  • Elaine

    DC ought to consider figuring out how to educate its children in emergency legislation, rather than picking on a few food trucks. I love the idea of rolling restaurants. And I love Curbside Cupcakes. Fix the tax situation and move on. Putting people out of business in this economy is not the right move.

  • Prince Of Petworth

    I’m now told the moratorium situation has been tabled for today.

  • Josh – PORC

    over 12 lobbyists representing RAMW (the restaurant association), the DC Chamber of Commerce, AOBA (Building Owners) and the Vending Depots quietly went down to the Wilson Building to try to blindside the food trucks with a moratorium. This has never been a tax issue. We told the council we would be happy to pay 10% sales tax. They are trying to put us out of business any way they can. Watch, the special interest wonks will come up with another imaginary issue tomorrow to hem and haw about. It’s disgusting how they act, period.

  • Jason

    This suffocating political climate is the reason DC is artistically anemic.

  • Bob

    I say instead of raising the tax on hard working food trucks, let’s do something new: like enforce rediculous parking rules to the n-th degree! Yea! Let’s punish people who drive into the city for a good time, spending $ at our local business and really teach them a lesson.

    You know, I’ve always said a city just isn’t a city without having to carry around a wheelbarrow worth of quarters with you :)! Welcome to the people-friendly policy DC we all know and love.

    Leave the trucks alone they bring variety to a gray-building, apathetic-caffeteria laiden town.

  • Marcus Aurelius

    I don’t have a problem with food trucks – though all but one of my attempts to patronize them have been unsuccessful because of ridiculously long lines. But they should be regulated. Anything mobile can more easily evade health and safety standards and taxes. In addition, it’s not clear to me why a food truck should be able to park in one spot all day while other commercial vehicles can’t.

    • Jason

      Food trucks are both regulated and unable to park in one spot all day long. There are number of laws already in place surrounding the food trucks! Certainly the popularity of the food trucks are new, but they are not a new concept and the regulation of their health, safety, and parking standards have already been established. But because they are suddenly becoming more popular, B&M restaurants want to create ADDITIONAL regulations to make them unable to take business from the B&M.

  • Jason

    Actually the racial makeup is pretty broad. I’ve personally visited most of the food trucks that service DC and I can honestly say that there is no one race that makes up the majority, except perhaps caucasian.

    • Anonymous

      thats what “briefly” is trying to suggest.

  • So….. where is toilet? Hehe))) Joke, relax ;)
    By the way, anybody home?!


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