D.C. Council passes food truck regulations

For four years, D.C. food truck regulations have been hotly contested by vendors, brick-and-mortar restaurants, the District government, and Council members. But Tuesday, they reached a compromise that seems to make everyone involved happy.

The ayes had it unanimously. The D.C. Council passed emergency legislation, amending proposed food truck regulations.

“I think they’ve been tackling this for years, for at least two decades, and we’re finally at a point where we can bring it all together,” says Vincent Orange.

Brick-and-mortar restaurants have long complained that food trucks could set up anywhere they wanted, eating into their business.

“There have been faithful people, but there have also been people that have been leaving,” says Charles Molinar, a restaurant employee.

But when the city released regulations restricting where mobile vendors could operate, the food truck industry called them unfair.

“To follow this rule we’re going to lose a lot… our business, you know?” says Fouzia Asghar, a food truck vendor.

In a compromise, the D.C. Council will allow food trucks to park along any sidewalk in the city that has at least six feet of unobstructed space. A previous proposal called for at least 10 feet, and when it comes to enforcing that law, the Council is giving vendors even more flexibility by not counting parking meters as sidewalk obstructions.

“We think today we arrived at a fair compromise,” says Che Ruddel-Tabisola, the political director at the D.C. Food Truck Association.

An amendment by Council member Tommy Wells also reduced the fine amount for food trucks at expired parking meters to $50 instead of the proposed $2000 fine.

“For a business that certainly barely has that kind of operational margin is ridiculous,” Wells says. “It’s almost intended to prevent food trucks from being able to operate.”

The legislation now goes to Mayor Vincent Gray for his signature. His spokesperson says the mayor is currently reviewing the changes to the regulations.